Mary Hood

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IMG_2374 Et in Arcadia ego: Even in Arcadia, there I am.” This Latin memento-mori phrase is cautiously reminding us that complexity resides in apparent simplicity. In my recent works I explore the mystery and symbolic secrecy of utopian Arcadia, historically celebrated as an unspoiled and harmonious wilderness devoid of the impact of human civilization. It is glorified as the spontaneous result of a life lived naturally, uncorrupted by civilization in pastoral simplicity. Yet, creation is by nature is both harmony and conflict. As guardians of Arcadia, it is our work to guide conflict to harmony, though all too often conflict is used as a means of personal gain. My recent work exists in this utopian environment at the luminous point in time between day and night, where imagination is unquestioned and empowered to construct new a worldview. The world we live in often feels shaped by catastrophic events, both internal and external, and a sense of looming crisis seems to provide the structure of feeling for our time. This work investigates utopian and dystopian constructions; exploring the boundaries between the idealized and abstracted spaces of an immaterial world. Without becoming too didactic, my narratives allude to themes within contemporary culture that express a political or social point of view, using animals as a metaphor for human behaviors and contemporary events. Because bears have been known to live on all continents with the exception of Australia* they serve as my primary metaphor, though I also make images of birds that fly into invisible fences, dogs who are sleeping while on guard, bunnies who are unwillingly displaced, and eagles that run through forests trying to escape world scrutiny. The act of rendering visible the difficult, the uncertain, and the unconscious helps me to understand how the precarious nature of life can be examined and how it makes us feel. *(Note: the Koala Bear is not considered to be a member of the eight major bear groups, but is a marsupial.)

For many years prior I worked with the idea of Silence in artist’s books, prints, paintings, drawings, sculptures, sound, and installations that sought to create a temporal environment for experiencing Silence. In 2000 my ideas turned to the abstract notion of Time, which, like Silence, is purely rhetorical rather than factual in its definition. In the fall of 2004 I fully turned my attention to the Now and began hand creating Ten Thousand Tears. This  project was an important tool for me to reflect upon the  environmental, social and political unrest in our chaotic global theatre.  A series of prints and artists books followed in which water is pooling, overflowing, diverting and escaping. The water in turn becomes the substance of reflection and a symbol for our collective sub-consciousness, and within each drop of water I etched my fingerprint to give an individual identity to the symbolism in the image.   ~  Mary Hood