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      Mary Morse                                               
   Austin, Texas  

         I came into the Art World as an undergraduate student at the height of abstract- expressionism movement. Pollock, DeKooing, Kline, Still, Rothko were the art gods of the day. And although I flirted with non-representational art I soon discovered that I was more interested in "re-presenting" the spatial world around me. What seems to have remained with me from those first experiences, however, is the appreciation of the process of working and the energy signature that is left in the work.

 

         When I started doing sculpture I would broadly and loosely model the figures, ignoring details, to capture a gesture of a movement or an action. I squeezed out small figures in softened wax finding that I enjoyed this spontaneous way of creating from. I borrowed poses from Hiroshige, the 19th century Japanese woodblock artist. Working from those drawings I realized that I had enough knowledge, from years of drawing from models, to create a believable figure without having to be in front of one. Mass, proportions and gesture were more important to me than clearly defined muscularity or details of features, hands and feet. This was a liberating. Over time the work has changed and the rougher modeling of form has given way to a more controlled modeling but still with an active surface.

 

       The plastic nature of the wax initially enticed me to create elaborate headdresses and costume pieces for figures. I became intrigued with how these elements might respond to gravity and the actions of the figures. I saw these pieces of clothing as formal counterpoints to the dynamic gestures of the figures. I also felt that their ethnographic character implied civilization. Maybe not a specific culture, but nontheless, one conscious of and able to celebrate its own existence.

       Although I have continued making pieces in this same vein, recently I've been drawn to figurative situations with more contemporary content. I have been intrigued by the groups of day laborers and other street people that I see here in Austin. This has resulted in some new pieces with this urban content. A second group of beach ladies has also emerged and certainly comes from my memories of many annual gatherings of friends at Dauphin Island, Alabama.

     Not matter what the subject of the work is it is always about moments of humanness. I would ask my viewer to simply enjoy the actions of the figures and think of our shared humanity, appreciate of our ability to move through space, to balance, to get lost in a song or a thought.

 

EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT

      My first formal art class was a figure drawing class I took at the Detroit School of Arts and Crafts the summer after I started college. I received Bachelors of Art with a major in Art History form Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan in 1963 and Masters of Fine Arts in painting in 1967 at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.

      I moved to Louisiana in 1968 and taught in the School of Art and Architecture at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Louisiana from 1968-1999. I was Director of the University's Art Gallery from 1980 - 1997.   When I retired from teaching I moved to Austin, Texas where I currently live.

Educational background

B.A. (Art History, Studio), Oakland University, Rochester, MI, 1959-63.

M.F.A.(Painting), Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, 1963-1967.

Fulbright-Hays Cross Cultural Study and Research Program in India: Arts and Culture, June/July 1978

Fulbright-Hays Seminar in China: Social Sciences, July/August 1985

Faculty Development Grant - Funds used to attend Scottish Sculpture Workshop in Lumsden,   

                                                 Scotland 1987

University Research Grant for the Summer - Worked at the TAVS Bronze  Froundry in Tucumcari,

                                                                           New Mexico.  1992

Architecture Faculty Development Grant to work at TAVS Bronze Foundry.  1993

           

Architecture Faculty Development to attend one week Silt Workshop at Arcosanti, Cordes

           Junction, Arizona in June.   1994