For the Time Being

December 26 th 2008

Mixed Media Collage on Paper
50 1/4"x 38 3/4"

I make my collages by attaching layer upon layer of materials such as painted paper, foil, glitter, painted sticks, wire, string, leather, small plastic toys and other found objects on heavy paper, much in the way a painter builds layer upon layer of paint on canvas. Often these materials are used symbolically. My aim is that the obsessive images that result from this method of working convey an intensity which the viewer finds compelling. I like the irony of using materials that are often trivial, foolish and temporal to express ideas of what is timeless, significant and transcendent.

The title of this collage is taken from W.H. Auden's Christmas Oratorio: For the Time Being. The subject is the mixture of good and bad in the world: roses and thorns, "good" bugs and "bad" bugs, and beauty and decay. The goldfinch is a traditional symbol for Christ's passion, since it makes its nests in thorns. The barber scissors stand for the passing of time. The old bandaid box is a reminder of our inability as humans to totally eliminate evil. The postcard of "Wonderhouse" in Florida is a reminder that in spite of these things, the earth is a place of wonder.

Topics: Arts

Mary McCleary is Regent's Professor of Art Emeritus at Stephen F. Austin State University, where she taught from 1975 to 2005. Born in Houston, Texas in 1951, she received her B.F.A., cum laude in printmaking/drawing at Texas Christian University and her M.F.A. in graphics from the University of Oklahoma. Since 1970 she has participated in over 250 one-person and group exhibits in museums and galleries in 24 states, Mexico, and Russia. These venues include the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., MOBIA in New York City, the Grey Gallery at NYU, the Boston Museum of Art, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston, the San Antonio Museum of Art, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City. She is also a recipient of a Mid-America Arts Alliance/National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship. Her work has been regularly reviewed or featured in the Houston Post, Houston Chronicle, Austin American Statesman, Dallas Morning News, and other Texas newspapers, as well as in national publications: Art in America, Art News, Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion, Art Papers, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Art Week, Artspace, Texas Homes, New American Paintings, and Contemporanea International Arts Magazine. McCleary's work is in many public collections including those of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, the El Paso Museum of Art, the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Art Museum of Southeast Texas in Beaumont.