Essays by Mary Carroll Nelson

What Lies Beyond?

My father was clearly dying but my mother could not face losing him. Her only purpose was to keep him alive. When he tried to say goodbye, she scolded him, "Jim, if you talk like that I just won’t visit you tomorrow." Their love for each other bridged fifty–eight years. I watched their final moments together with pity and sadness.

This ending of my father’s life and the instant decline of my mother’s mental state determined my art’s direction. Death, in my view, is a transition to the spirit, a return to a familiar and beloved form of life, but how to express in art what I could not say to those I love? I tried layering Japanese papers, gold leaf and tinting to suggest a diaphanous region, but they seemed too dense. Then I moved to mylar and from there to plexiglas®. My medium for this work became luminous ink, stippled and sometimes brushed, with occasional inclusions of film on layers of acrylic sheet. I have maintained this focus for nearly three decades. In addition to pondering life after death, I have developed a passion for the NASA photographs from the Hubble telescope. Through such inventiveness, we now can see deep into space and thus far back into time, layer upon layer. Also, the phenomenon of crop circles that appear in fields worldwide and the wonders of synchronicity inspire my vision of interpenetrating states of being. My effort is to suggest multiple dimensions by means of transparency, light, and color. I think of my art as making shrines to what lies beyond the Earth plane. A spiritual medium told me that my parents’ souls say they are learning through my work — a most soothing thought.

Mary Carroll Nelson

Essays Listed by Name:

What Lies Beyond? The Art of Layering Art Today, Art History Tomorrow
Can We Believe In Holism and Be a Partisan Too? Words in Their Time Synchronicity and Holism
©2010 Mary Carroll Nelson
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