In 1990, I was a senior vice president for a major West Coast-based financial institution. I had been in finance for twenty years and had a career full of excitement, travel, expense accounts, and angst.
I took the summer off to spend with my son, who would soon be leaving for college, and planned on returning to work when he left for school. For whatever reason I kept extending the deadline to go back.
After an eighteen-month stint working in a soup kitchen surrounded by creative types, I realized that being a maker, rather than a viewer, was important to me. I found myself in art school. Never again to wear a pinstriped suit, carry a briefcase, or casually discuss spread sheets, I struggled to learn a new vocabulary and build a history in a field I knew nothing about. Even stranger was the realization that one got no credit for prior lives. Who ever heard of an arena where past experiences didn’t count and no matter what your former position, nobody cared?
Welcome to the art world.
In the ensuing years, I have worked to find my direction and create without the need for memos, rigid formulas, projects with predetermined outcomes, and doing it the right way. Trained as a painter and printmaker, I am now only interested in using as materials things that already have fully formed and useful histories. I work sculpturally, usually with paper, and text is always a part of the finished piece. Accessibility and readability is not important to me. Wonder is. I try to re-imagine, re-contextualize, re-work, or just make up a story. My goal is to not be too reverent.
Statement courtesy of Mary Bennett
The Book as Art: Twenty Years of Artists' Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts