“There is something about drawing with a soft pencil on a velvet-like surface that cannot be matched. No matter what is going on in my head or what stress I have in my life, touching pencil to paper soothes me. It is direct, low-tech and flows from within. Drawing is the foundation that all of my work is built on.
My recent drawings are created mostly with graphite and the marks are delicate and quiet. In these pieces I use intricately drawn patterns to suggest wallpaper, embroidery or domestic crafts that might have occupied a woman’s time in the day. Against these lovely, repetitive backgrounds, I situate a figure or part of the body in a tense or distressed pose with hair in disarray or toes flexed, interrupting the order of the drawn pattern.”
This body of work, “A Partial View”, is based on artist Mary Jane Parker’s interest in hysteria, a disease that many women were diagnosed with in the early 1900’s. There are many theories about exactly what hysteria was and why it predominantly afflicted women. The aspect of the disease that has most fascinated Parker, however, is how the medical professionals used it to restrict women who did not follow the rules and expectations of society. In researching this period in medical history, Parker stumbled upon a group of drawings by the doctor who was a mentor to Freud, Jean-Martin Charcot. His fascinating sketches depicted states of restlessness, anxiety, theatricality and stress–– emotions akin to those our current society fosters.
A native New Orleanian, Ms. Parker’s work is mixed media combining printmaking and painting techniques with glass and bronze sculpture. She received her BFA from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in studio art and her MFA from Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois, in studio art with an emphasis in printmaking. Ms. Parker was the recipient of a Louisiana Division of the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship in 1990 and 2001 and a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2006. She was also awarded a National Endowment for the Arts/Southern Arts Federation Award for Excellence in Works on Paper in 1990. Ms. Parker used an NEA Independent Study Fellowship to travel along the pilgrimage route in France and Spain. In addition, she studied color woodcut in Florence, Italy using a Surdna Foundation Fellowship.
Ms. Parker has exhibited work nationally and internationally and is represented in New Orleans by Arthur Roger Gallery. Currently Mary Jane serves on the board of the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans as the Visual Arts Coordinator. Ms. Parker is the chairperson of the visual arts department at the New Orleans Center for Creative Art. She is also a member of the teaching faculty.
“A Partial View: Drawings by Mary Jane Parker”, made possible, in part, by a generous donation from Catherine Deano.
The exhibit is on display at the St. Tammany Art Association, 320 N. Columbia Street, from October 10th – November 28th, 2020. The Arthouse hours are Tuesday – Friday, 10am-4pm; Saturday 11am-4pm.
Learn more at www.sttammany.art