MARY MENDELL - ARTIST’S STATEMENT
I think of etchings as a combination of line (thick, thin, clean, ragged), tone (deep blacks to high value grays), texture (combinations of line and tone), and sometimes color. For me the latter most often means tinting a black plate with pastel or watercolor. The works shown in this exhibit were made between 2005 and 2009. All were worked on over a period of months alternating scraping and burnishing with the etching of new lines and textures.
If I give heart to you (2005). My prints evolve slowly. The figure on the left was holding something, which became a heart, while the other figure developed a certain stance, and a crown. I made a deep black foreground that eliminated unnecessary elements (plants and a sidewalk), and added a background neighborhood of houses. Eventually the imagery seemed to make sense while satisfying my need for strong tone, interesting textures and lines.
Things fall apart (2006). This print is mostly about line and texture. There are traces of an ill-conceived elephant in the background. In the foreground, one woman weeps, another deals with her dogs, two wise birds watch. Miscellaneous figures share the background with landscape. It’s Sunday in Central Park.
Oregon coast (2007). This plate (as Things fall apart) began with the technique of sugar lift, in which ink is combined with a sugar solution and is used to draw directly on the plate. The plate, coated with ground, is soaked in warm water dissolving the sugar. The drawn lines become exposed metal that can be etched by acid. This is one of a dozen plates showing crowds of “little people”. It’s a fair memory topographically though there are seldom crowds on the Oregon coast.
Malevich girl (2009). I have looked but cannot find anything like this in the work of Kazimir Malevich. The character is solid and strong. She is a bit de?ant, with a ?eld of ?owers and her town on the horizon. The black plate of line and texture overprints a pastel-tinted cartoon.
The forever plate (2009). I like the old, the fragmentary, and the inconclusive, and hope that it inspires the viewer to fill in the blanks. I wanted to make a print that would seem to be an aged document, one whose meaning could only be slightly known. The black plate overprints a pastel cartoon.
Sirens 1 (2009.) This is a painting using an etching as a cartoon. Why paint an etching? The first one I tried was more a question of why not? In this case, I have run up against a problem with the plate, and thought I might be able to figure it out by working on it as a painting. I have three painting versions, but the etching remains a work in progress.
I graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1960 with a BFA in sculpture. For ten years I sampled teaching, marriage, travel, motherhood, graduate school, and more teaching. In 1971 I moved to Boston to work in the production department of Beacon Press, and went on to Houghton Mifflin to design books. I became Design and Production Manager at the University of Massachusetts Press In 1974. A final move in 1983 brought me to North Carolina to head the design and production department at Duke University Press.
My many years working as a book designer were intellectually and creatively challenging. During these years I made paintings, collages, and drawings, but my main focus was on typography and book design.
I began making etchings in 1999 and since have worked primarily in this medium. I have shown work at the Durham Arts Center, Durham Arts Guild, Carrboro Artscenter, and a number of venues with members of the North Carolina Printer’s Guild. I am a member of the Orange County Artists’ Guild and for the past four years have participated in their November studio tour.
My work can be seen at http://orangecountyartistsguild.com; gallery919.com; and on my Facebook page (a work in progress).