Repetition has become an undeniable focus of my work, as I continuously pull from a catalogue of forms I have assembled. Each work can be considered a portrayal of a unique, but simultaneously familiar, space. These are places I have been or imagined or dreamed of, spaces I have inhabited or imagined or dreamed of. It becomes difficult to tell if these are spaces one can truly enter or inhabit. Perhaps they are imagined, perhaps they are real but one is unable or unwilling to enter.
Although each work can be considered individually, the repetition of form, echoing and color play push beyond a single piece. Through these repeated forms a larger, more complex environment is coming to exist, only reachable through recollection. In an attempt to recreate the true essence of a time or place, I am continuously questioning the way I remember things, in hopes to more clearly discern what is true.
Slowing down has been a significant aspect of my work for many years now. I have made many failed attempts at meditation, but have come to understand that for me, painting and art-making is a meditation. Art is a mantra, as well as a form of numina: an ancient term for ‘divinity’ or ‘divine presence.’ Numen (singular of numina) is also sometimes used to describe the idea of power residing in an object, just as a grouping of words repeated as a mantra is believed to hold power. Art is a mantra and numen in the way that it helps me make sense of my surroundings and purpose. Art-making is my method of slowing down and reconnecting with my body and mind.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in London, England, but raised in Evanston, Illinois, Mary F. Coats is currently based in Madison, Wisconsin. She received an M.F.A from the University of Iowa in 2013 where she was awarded the Mildred Pelzer Lynch Fellowship in Painting.
Recent exhibitions include Grey|Gray (Matter) at Divisible Projects in Dayton, OH, Under, Over, and Within at Studios on Sheridan in Peoria, IL, Familiar Spirits at the McLean County Arts Center in Bloomington, IL, Funkytown at Urbano Cellars in Berkeley, CA, and Retrieval of the Beautiful at The Painting Center in New York, NY. Coats has taught at the University of Iowa, Grinnell College, and Kirkwood Community College.