Mary Welsh: Appearances & Reality

March 18 - June 18, 2017

The houses and rooms created by Mary Welsh allow us to enter a world where the borders between inside/outside, waking/dreaming, reality/imagination, and mind/body are porous. It is a world of wonder, where we delight in both the physical and the fantastic. While the framework is familiar, the content transforms the scenes into something exotic.

Borrowing freely from the art historical canon, Welsh embeds images of acknowledged masterpieces in her collages, alongside pictures from magazines and other graphic sources. Through this unusual combination of images, she explores ideas at once personal and cultural, breaking new ground and creating richly nuanced, unique works of art.

Questions come to mind: Why did Welsh choose this particular historical work? What is it about the original artwork that so captured her imagination? Is its inclusion purely a formal visual response? Is it a cultural response, or perhaps a social critique? What did the original work signify during the time of its creation—and, set in the world Mary Welsh has created, what fresh insights are to be found?

— Mara Williams, Chief Curator

Found materials placed in new contexts pose questions about appearances and reality, and stimulate our imaginations. My collages, made from images I find in magazines, art books, maps, calendars, and end papers, depict what we all take for granted—houses, rooms, and their contents. Viewing these scenes evokes memories and fantasies of houses and rooms. While some images represent exactly what they appear to, some do not. These dwellings, their settings, and their contents evoke the layers of mystery surrounding the lives of all of us.

I invented my technique while traveling and studying on a two-year sojourn in England and France. I glue the images with acid free acrylic medium onto birch or mahogany plywood panels prepared with acrylic gesso, and seal the work with several coats of clear acrylic varnish. Each frame is custom designed, and is hand painted with acrylics in patterns and colors suited to the particular collage.

— Mary Welsh


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