Mary Iverson
oil on canvas

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MARY IVERSON – Artist Statement

The first thing you will notice when you see my work is a beautiful image of a pristine landscape. On further investigation, you will find that the landscape is covered with an intricate network of lines that obscures the pretty view. Next, you discover that there are hundreds of shipping containers and wrecked container ships caught in the snare of those lines, and you realize that you are witnessing the aftermath of an enormous catastrophe.

In my small works, the found photograph sets up the irony of the final piece. I cut my photos out of travel magazines, environmental magazines, and glossy wall calendars. These sources provide consumers with the fantasy of travel, the illusion of environmental protection, and the appearance of serenity. By appropriating these images and ruining them, I am parodying their intended message.

In my large oil paintings, I use my own photographs. I travel to National Parks and State Parks, set up camp, and gather reference material. The research trips take on a ritual aspect because I feel that I am following in the footsteps of the Luminist painters of the American West like Moran and Bierstadt.

A stack of containers is like a stack of poker chips representing the viability of our economy.  The capitalist system wagers the needs of a growing population against the stress the environment can bear. When I read annual reports from various ports, they talk about container volumes in the tens of millions, and they project that container volumes will continue to increase. My work raises questions about the ultimate destination for all of this growth.