Mary Kroetsch

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Artist Statement

My artistic practice is research-creational and my most recent project, emerged from the question “ Who is this?”  It is a question with no singular or conclusive answer. Instead my work shares many layers of abstract storytelling – raising multiple conversations about a single identity.

Inspired by the relationship I have with vintage photography, I am drawn to representations of femininity, in which women wear obvious masks that present a theatrical self.
When encountering such archival images, I ask; What is She hiding?  What social pressures has She conformed to?  If She could speak…

Photography in all its forms is used often to create and archive identity.  It documents, traces and even memorializes.  When I study a photograph of Her, I try to understand who and what is being preserved .  Can I get to know Her temperament, humor, ambition…?  Was She abused, rejected, denied…?  

Fanny is a complex woman who I have invented from a found Victorian image.  Using a tableau vivant as my easel, I have chipped away at finding pieces of Her, modeling a fragmented personality that is motionless and stagnant but has a history of being.
This installation probes the enigmatic image of a woman I want to explore using multiple mediums with creative technologies – merging, layering, cutting and molding the parts of a perceived identity into a hybrid personality.  Many hypothetical elements of Her are arranged in a collection that coheres into a conceptual portrait.

During my intimate time with Fanny, She has shared a strong connection to domestic life, with many parts of the installation clearly representative of what are often necessary but mundane acts of household maintenance.  Pondering why Fanny wanted me to know this, I realize that subconsciously Fanny has become a self portrait.  My definition of home as domesticity is shifting.

Creatively, I am interested in integrating mixed methods of design and art-making to create work in new, meaningful, and emotionally impactful ways.  My research pushes me to explore the problems that arise from what sometimes are limitations and disconnects discovered when building layers that impact surfaces, production, and fabrication.  Problems can be solved only to discover another problem.  And so the techniques that enable me to work with many materials and combined media, provide a dialogue with layering and shifting, leading to visual integration.

My ideas incorporate feminist perspectives and history.  I constantly seek to redefine female imagery from the building blocks influenced by immediate and past events, environments, traditions, and cultural legacies leading to a conceptual and programmatic model for equality and control of Her destinies.

My installations have been called shrines and I embrace this.  But my artwork is not a holy relic in need of worship.  It is a way for me to capture and document not only the physical conditions of womanhood, but to construct a sense of who She is as a person. This is a narrative with a beginning, but no end. Her experiences are not over – the photograph merely opens the door for me to solve the puzzle, but there will always be a missing piece to Her identity.

My mission with my art is Her survival, which, in turn, yields my survival.

You can see more of Mary’s work on her website:

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