ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Sculptor Mary Early at Hemphill Fine Arts

07/29/2010 06:37 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

WHO: Mary Early

WHAT: 'Sculpture'

WHEN: June 10th - August 7th, 2010

WHERE: Hemphill Fine Arts
1515 14th Street NW
Washington DC 20008

Mary Early


The exhibition at Hemphill is comprised of two large installation pieces complemented by a small-scale work. Early's process is to initially determine a shape or component with which to construct an artwork, and then to make numerous copies of that component. Each component is fabricated from laminated strips of wood bound by cheesecloth, covered in natural beeswax and polished. These seemingly generic shapes are balanced against one another, interlocked to create a whole sculptural installation.

Early's application and careful polishing of the beeswax surface reveals a degree of craftsmanship and leaves evidence of the artist's hand. The artist's presence is further felt in the unplanned construction of the installation. Early discovers the final composition by testing how the components interact. Beyond the visual experience, which includes a play of patterns, negative spaces and shadows, Early's sculptures possess an aroma, the perfume of natural beeswax. By incorporating this undeniably emotional element, the artist not only communicates something biological but also something ephemeral. These non-visual and personal elements contrast with the idealism implied by her structures. Early's work juxtaposes the illusion of permanence with the temporary nature of life.

Artist Spotlight is an at-a-glace look at an artist's work we think you should know about.