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Mary Weatherford

Mary Weatherford, Madame Butterfly, 1989 Oil and pencil on canvas, 60 × 60 inches (152.4 × 152.4 cm)© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, Madame Butterfly, 1989

Oil and pencil on canvas, 60 × 60 inches (152.4 × 152.4 cm)
© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, Missing Margaret, 1995 Flashe and starfish on jute, 21 × 27 inches (53.3 × 68.6 cm)© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, Missing Margaret, 1995

Flashe and starfish on jute, 21 × 27 inches (53.3 × 68.6 cm)
© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, Double Margaret, 1996 Seashells, acrylic oil, silkscreen, and Xerox transfer on canvas, 36 × 20 inches (91.4 × 50.8 cm)© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, Double Margaret, 1996

Seashells, acrylic oil, silkscreen, and Xerox transfer on canvas, 36 × 20 inches (91.4 × 50.8 cm)
© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, liquid sky, 1997 Flashe and starfish on canvas, 55 × 66 inches (139.7 × 167.6 cm)© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, liquid sky, 1997

Flashe and starfish on canvas, 55 × 66 inches (139.7 × 167.6 cm)
© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, beach, 2000 Flashe on canvas, 60 × 49 inches (152.4 × 124.5 cm)© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, beach, 2000

Flashe on canvas, 60 × 49 inches (152.4 × 124.5 cm)
© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, little pink space maker, 2000 Flashe and seashells on canvas, 16 × 18 inches (40.6 × 45.7 cm)© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, little pink space maker, 2000

Flashe and seashells on canvas, 16 × 18 inches (40.6 × 45.7 cm)
© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, naked, 2000 Flashe and sponge on jute, 6 × 12 inches (15.2 × 30.5 cm)© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, naked, 2000

Flashe and sponge on jute, 6 × 12 inches (15.2 × 30.5 cm)
© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, moonrise, 2004 Flashe on canvas, 66 × 58 inches (167.6 × 147.3 cm)© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, moonrise, 2004

Flashe on canvas, 66 × 58 inches (167.6 × 147.3 cm)
© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, Georgia, 2010 Flashe and starfish on linen, 44 × 50 inches (111.8 × 127 cm)© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, Georgia, 2010

Flashe and starfish on linen, 44 × 50 inches (111.8 × 127 cm)
© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, Coney Island II, 2012 Flashe and neon on linen, 103 × 83 inches (261.6 × 210.8 cm), Museum of Modern Art, New York© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Jonathan Muzikar

Mary Weatherford, Coney Island II, 2012

Flashe and neon on linen, 103 × 83 inches (261.6 × 210.8 cm), Museum of Modern Art, New York
© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Jonathan Muzikar

Mary Weatherford, November cave, 2013 Flashe on linen, 30 × 36 inches (76.2 × 91.4 cm), Private Collection© Mary Weatherford Studio

Mary Weatherford, November cave, 2013

Flashe on linen, 30 × 36 inches (76.2 × 91.4 cm), Private Collection
© Mary Weatherford Studio

Mary Weatherford, la noche, 2014 Flashe and neon on linen, 117 ⅜ × 104 ¼ inches (298.1 × 264.8 cm), Private Collection© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, la noche, 2014

Flashe and neon on linen, 117 ⅜ × 104 ¼ inches (298.1 × 264.8 cm), Private Collection
© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, Ahab’s, 2014 Flashe and neon on linen, 55 ¼ × 93 inches (140.3 × 236.2 cm), Private Collection© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

Mary Weatherford, Ahab’s, 2014

Flashe and neon on linen, 55 ¼ × 93 inches (140.3 × 236.2 cm), Private Collection
© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

Mary Weatherford, dawn Channel, 2015 Flashe and neon on linen, 117 × 104 inches (297.2 × 264.2 cm)© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, dawn Channel, 2015

Flashe and neon on linen, 117 × 104 inches (297.2 × 264.2 cm)
© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, past Sunset, 2015 Flashe and neon on linen, 112 × 99 inches (284.5 × 251.5 cm). Private Collection© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, past Sunset, 2015

Flashe and neon on linen, 112 × 99 inches (284.5 × 251.5 cm). Private Collection
© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, Butterly, 2017 Flashe and neon on linen, 117 × 234 inches (297.2 × 594.4 cm), Private Collection© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, Butterly, 2017

Flashe and neon on linen, 117 × 234 inches (297.2 × 594.4 cm), Private Collection
© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, Eden, 2017 Flashe and Neon on linen, 117 × 234 inches (297.2 × 594.4 cm)© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, Eden, 2017

Flashe and Neon on linen, 117 × 234 inches (297.2 × 594.4 cm)
© Mary Weatherford Studio. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

About

I’m done with a painting when there is something so compelling that I don’t want to lose it. 
—Mary Weatherford

Mary Weatherford makes large paintings comprising grounds of spontaneously sponged paint on heavy linen canvases, often surmounted by one or more carefully shaped and placed colored neon tubes. The canvas—prepared with white gesso mixed with marble dust and worked on with Flashe paint, a highly pigmented but readily diluted emulsion—supports startlingly diverse applications of color. The surface of the paint ranges from matte and velvety to transparent and translucent. The canvas is at times densely filled, reading as a painterly continuum; at others, it shifts in color from edge to edge; and at yet others it contains clusters of marks set in relatively bare surroundings.

Weatherford received a BA in 1984 from Princeton University, where she took classes in studio art, art history, architecture, and engineering, and an MFA from Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, in 2006. In her paintings of the 1990s and early 2000s, she incorporated assemblage elements such as seashells, sponges, and starfish within thin washes of Flashe color. These works gave way to the Vine paintings (2007–08), inspired by an intertwined network of ivy, followed by the Cave paintings (2010), a series based on Weatherford’s sustained observation, four years earlier, of a sea cave at Pismo Beach, where she produced small pencil drawings and paintings as the sunlight cast different shadows throughout the day.

In 2012 Weatherford was a visiting artist at California State University at Bakersfield. As she drove around the small city, she was intrigued by the colored neon signs of old factories and restaurants, some illuminated, some burned out. The Bakersfield Project (2012) grew out of these drives, and it was the first series in which Weatherford incorporated neon rods in her paintings. The rods are screwed directly into the canvas and are connected by thin wires, which create a three-dimensional drawing on top of the painted background and lead down to large magnetic transformers on the floor. Casting an industrial light onto the fields of color, the neon tubes read as hand-drawn lines across the surface, at times with a blinding brightness that creates lingering afterimages.

Weatherford’s use of color and light is based on her direct experience of specific locations, as well as her memories of such experiences. Manhattan (2013) and Los Angeles (2014), two major series following the Bakersfield works, additionally possess references to architectural and infrastructural details. Brooklyn Bridge (2013), from the Manhattan series, includes two neon rods—in warm yellow and turquoise—held together at their bases by a looped cord that recalls the suspension cables of the famous bridge. From the mountain to the sea (2014), from the Los Angeles series, attests to Weatherford’s interest not only in the city itself, but also in where the city meets nature, incorporating steely blues and grays with white and yellow lights that oscillate between the organic and the artificial.

In her paintings from 2017–18, Weatherford focuses on her responses to current events, linking them to her experience of premodern narrative pictorial compositions. She thinks of these new works as aspiring to the function of earlier history paintings, which tell of actual or mythological happenings to invoke fundamental and topical concerns.

Weatherford’s works expand the expressive potential of neon. Though appropriated by earlier artists for its consumerist and linguistic connotations, in Weatherford’s work the industrial material is transformed into a radically new form of abstract, pictorial drawing. Weatherford’s first survey exhibition will be presented at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in 2019 and will travel to the Tang Museum at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, in 2020.

Mary Weatherford

Photo: Lee Jaffe

From the Quarterly

Fairs, Events & Announcements

Mary Weatherford, 2018, 2018 © Mary Weatherford. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Panel Discussion

Gender Equality and Art
within the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

September 24–28, 2018
Gagosian West 24th Street, New York
www.art2030.org

Gagosian, together with ART 2030 and BOTTLETOP, is pleased to present a panel discussion on gender representation, disparity, and equality in the arts, moderated by Johanna Burton, with the participation of Mary Weatherford, Ulla Tørnæs, Cameron Saul, and Hadeel Ibrahim. Coinciding with the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, the panel discussion is the kickoff event of ART 2030 New York, a new, annual citywide initiative uniting the contemporary art world in support of the United Nations’ 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Attendance at this event is by invitation only.

Mary Weatherford, 2018, 2018 © Mary Weatherford. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Mary Weatherford, Bird of Paradise, 2018 © Mary Weatherford. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

In Conversation

Mary Weatherford
Phyllis Tuchman

Tuesday, October 2, 2018, 6:30pm
New York Studio School
nyss.org

Mary Weatherford will discuss her practice with art writer Phyllis Tuchman. The event is free and open to the public. Space is limited and will be granted on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Mary Weatherford, Bird of Paradise, 2018 © Mary Weatherford. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Photo: Lee Jaffe

Honor

Mary Weatherford

On July 1, 2018, Mary Weatherford will join the Lewis Center for the Arts Advisory Council.

Photo: Lee Jaffe

See all News for Mary Weatherford