I began these works in the spring of 2006, around the time of my mother’s death. They were in part inspired (if that word is appropriate) by the scars and markings on her body. For me, they were the evidence of having lived (thrived even) in spite of injury, illness and the assorted barrage of assaults that her body withstood at the hands of medicine. The body is resilient—up to a point. We all succumb. While this may at first appear macabre, each of these works gives preeminence to the experience of being alive. In using dressmaker’s patterns, I allude to skin, in which the pattern markings mimic surgical directions or radiation tattoos. The pattern tissue, applied layer upon layer, develops a visual subtlety and rhythm, building upon itself, developing its history. These are some of the most painstaking, laborious and process oriented pieces I have ever attempted. They approach the meticulous reverence of the works of old masters by building, slowly, layer upon layer, glaze over glaze, varnish over varnish to achieve luminosity. Working in this manner was a highly contemplative experience for me, while the process itself became an emotional metaphor for the experience of grieving.

These works are dedicated to the memory of my mother, Barb Snyder (1929-2006).

—Mary Snyder Behrens
Tissue Samples
© by Mary Snyder Behrens For enlarged views and documentation, click on 
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Smokes Series