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Mary Long was born in Ohio and has lived in Tennessee since the mid-1990s. Following studies in graphic design and painting, she began working in encaustic in 2001. “I grew up near Canton, where there is a crazy-quilt patchwork of rural farms and factories. It’s a juxtaposition of architectural grayness against expanses of happy saturated colors that inspires my work to this day,” she says. Long often begins her paintings with marks drawn in oil stick, over which she applies many layers of wax combined with oil paints. “I scrape down in between the applications, revealing some of the marks, while leaving others faded or hidden in little worlds that have an element of history to them. The paintings begin in what I call a chaotic, adolescent phase and grow as layers of color and additional lines weave the elements together.” In the latest work I am decompressing, exploring more of the spaces in between. They don't simply represent topographical maps but also time and space, the painting acts as a 'slice' or a 'snapshot' of something continuous,” says Long.
Mary Long is an encaustic artist whose use of that technique brings to her work elements that are both solid and transparent, those that are easily and immediately understood positioned next to those that are evasive and subdued. The wax medium allows her to further explore the painting in a tactile way by selectively scraping, incising and scarring; the mediums and materials are broken down only to be rebuilt and reshaped, making the work an extremely personal psychological reflection and reaction to the subject matter presented.
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