Mary Wells “Ensemble: Paper Mosaic”

Mary Wells
“Ensemble: Paper Mosaic”
Feb. 21 - Mar. 10, 2012
Reception, Thursday, Feb. 23, 5 – 8p.m.

Chelsea, NYC: Viridian Artists is pleased to present a solo exhibition of work by Mary Wells in its new gallery space at 548 West 28th Street #632, also accessible from 547 West 27th Street. Entitled “ENSEMBLE: PAPER MOSAIC” the exhibit runs from February 21 – March 10, 2012 with an opening reception on Thursday, February 23, 5 – 8p.m.

Variously described as “paper magic”, “enchanting”, and “a sterling feat, piecing together something with a grand romantic sweep on a tiny scale” each of award-winner Mary Wells’ paper mosaics is a multi-hued, intricate, jewel-like and precisely detailed rendering of a lifelike image. The finished pieces glow with reflective light and a strong feeling of three-dimensionality.

Every one of Wells’ paper mosaics contains some aspect of landscape, memory or journey and each marks a moment and contains a story from her life, acting as a specific entry in her ongoing personal visual journal. While based on Wells’ life experiences, each mosaic also embraces a more universal view. The artist’s compositions are derived from her photos. Some present glimpses of places she has seen only once, while others are of places where she has lived or revisited over time. Images of sky and water are consistently featured in Wells’ work.

The focal point of this exhibit is four visual tone poems. Each is of the same panoramic view as seen from Villa Vignamaggio in Tuscany, shown in a different season. The artist’s intent is “to create a visual interpretation of the sonnets composed by Antonio Vivaldi that he used as the basis for his well-known concertos ‘The Four Seasons’, his musical version of these same sonnets”. Wells’ paper mosaics form a third component, harmonizing with and enhancing Vivaldi’s written words and music. Augmenting the four large visual tone poem mosaics are a number of smaller mosaics that highlight specific views of the gardens, flora, vistas and architecture that make up the villa’s surroundings.

Wells technique, which she describes as ‘paper mosaic’, is her own personal adaptation of the precise Italian craft ‘mosaico minuto’, developed centuries ago in Rome using miniscule broken threads of glass in place of the usual larger stone or ceramic tiles commonly used in Italian mosaics. Wells has substituted these glass fragments with tiny bits of papers that she hand-cuts and then pieces and glues together into complex assemblages of realistic images.

Wells tools and materials—scissors, papers and glue—are simple. Her work, however, is meticulous—for example each of the four panoramic seasonal mosaics in this exhibit measures 8 1-2 x 48 inches and each contains over 70,000 individually cut and glued pieces of paper. It is also time consuming—she is able to complete only one or two square-inches-per-hour. As she works, Wells focus is on the time and place she is re-creating. While some might find this “picky work for the patient hand” Wells says she finds it meditative and soothing.

Viewers not only will see her art, but will also have a chance to meet the artist at her reception on Thursday, February 23rd 5 – 8p.m. or by appointment through the gallery (212-414-4040) throughout the duration of the show. We hope to see you there.