My life is in that strange transition period where my children are leaving the nest one by one. As a mother left behind, I am in a position of being able to look back on those rich and often frustrating childrearing experiences, process them, and explore in my artwork what they have meant to me. My current body of work mines the iconic and archetypal images of the nest; that protected place in which one’s young can grow to maturity in relative comfort and safety. The nest is empty of offspring now, but left behind are the twigs, feathers, bones, and scraps – remnants of the pages of our book of life.
In my own nest of origin, there were many books. Coming from a family of journalists, lyricists and poets, I have always had an appreciation for, and love of, books. As a child, I was allowed free reign to explore my father’s shelves of books, and from his tiny red leather-bound set of the classics to larger volumes of poetry and nonfiction, I loved them all. Feeling so at home with books, many of my artworks utilize the format of the book or its components—its structure, pages, text, endpapers, covers and concept, all of these can be used. I use a mixed media
approach which includes these elements, plus paint, graphite, collage elements, nails and wire; I would include the smell of old books, too, if only I could. I am comfortable with the intimacy afforded by the smaller size of the pieces thus created, and with the sense of mystery resulting from text both revealed and obscured which draws the viewer in and invites her to draw her own conclusions and create her own stories.
Statement courtesy of Mary Perrin
The Book as Art: Twenty Years of Artists' Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts