“Equations” presents the most recent mixed media works by artist Mary Scurlock. Here on paper and panel, vibrant blues settle into warm grays, and earth tones give way to delicate lines that have emerged as the artist instinctively layered collage fragments from daily life into abstract planes of color, line and form. Old letters and discarded papers from her classroom merge and dissolve into color fields and subconscious marks; losing their original context as they become part of a broader summative whole.
Scurlock’s newest work allows us in to a reality that shapes itself. As intuitive processes preserve and reframe fragments of daily life, a balance emerges. The lines blur between past and present, semantics and formalism; evoking the singularity and universality of memory. In a time when paper artifacts are giving way to digital archiving, Scurlock’s work hints at the loss of the tangible connection to the past and the complexity of the act of remembering itself.
(Geneveieve Dowdy 2019)
Dearest Margaret 2017
The great secret of death, and perhaps its deepest connection with us, is this: that, in taking from us a being we have loved and venerated, death does not wound us, without, at the same time, lifting us toward a more perfect understanding of this being and of ourselves.
Rainer Marie Rilke
Letter to Countess Margot Sizzo-Noris-Crouty
January 23, 1924
While serving overseas in the Mediterranean, in the months before I was born, my father wrote to my mother, Margaret, weekly. It had been years since I laid eyes on this private exchange between my parents but I went to great lengths to find them again after my mother’s passing earlier this year. Both my father and mother were present again for me in the story recorded on these fragile and decaying pages; it was with a resolve that I set out to preserve them and honor their memory.
Rather than let them fall gently to ruin in my family’s paper archives, I made the decision to incorporate them into my work, making permanent these nuanced record of my parents’ lives and the tangible evidence of the deep caring that was shared between them.
By altering these letters, I intend not to obstruct any access to them, but rather to distribute their essence into a greater story beyond a single family’s remembered history. The surfaces of the paintings both embed and then excavate the letters, along with fragments of magazines and maps from the time.
As the hand written word fades from our collective memories, these works become not only about the duality of the grieving process, but an invitation to the viewer to consider the letter itself as an artifact of a shared history. A once vital part of a human need for connection, the hand written letter that served as personal witness to a life is beginning to disappear from the physical landscape a life leaves behind.
Talisman Series 2013
As defined by the dictionary a Talisman is an “object held to act as a charm to avert evil andbring good fortune; something believed to have magical properties.”
I acquire, mostly, found objects which have no significance except for my conviction that they must hold a particular magic inherent to my existence. When beginning this series of drawings my goal was to in someway incorporate the “collection” of rocks, bones, fossils, shards of roof, bits of Spanish floor tiles, and other non-specific items into my work. The foundation for each piece in the Talisman series was initiated with a rubbing of an object from the “collection”. In the end these marks, represent human desire to integrate our physical and spiritual natures, with of course a hint of good fortune.
New Work 2012
The light, the landscape, and the company that I kept during my summer residency at the Artist and Writers Retreat, La Muse, in Southern France served as the inspiration for this body of work. Initially I was energized by the strength and quality of the light in the region and directly saw its impact on my palette. Remnants of the landscape began to filter into the pieces while remaining undefined. Being in the company of writers enabled me to partake in the continual exchange of ideas, which ultimately fueled my creative process and influenced the use of language in my work. The fragments of narrative seen in the work are not meant to be read literally but rather are referencing a collective stream of consciousness. Equally as important are the abstracted marks made by the writing that adds an additional layer to the physicality of the pieces. Due to their support and encouragement I received during my residency, I would like to dedicate this exhibition of drawings to John Fanning and Kerry Eielson who had the vision to create La Muse, and to my fellow “musers.”
Wood and Glass 2009
Referencing opposites, wood, in the images of trees and glass in the glazing of the, surface, I want to acknowledge the balance created by contradictions that are so central to our everyday existence; such as strength is to fragility, past is to present, and deliberate is to unconscious.
By building up the surface with oil, graphite and wax then scratching, sanding and wiping away, I attempt to create a relationship between the history of the process and the final layers in the pieces.
On paper I layer the surfaces of my pieces using gouache, chalk pastel, graphite, watercolor, and photographs I have taken. The pieces allude to concrete references within abstract divisions. Compositionally, the structure is broken into compartments. I view the compartments as separate "readings" which constitute the whole. Specific landscapes, implied landscapes, images and random mark making define the spaces. My intention is to present a narrative which is open to interpretation by the viewer.