Mary Welsh depicts what we all take for granted—houses, rooms, and their contents—at Vermont’s Brattleboro Museum & Art Center.
Things aren’t always what they seem. In her collages, made from images found in magazines, art books, maps, calendars, and end papers, Vermont artist Mary Welsh depicts what we all take for granted—houses, rooms, and their contents. “Found materials placed in new contexts pose questions about appearances and reality, and stimulate our imaginations,” says Welsh. So while some images represent exactly what they appear to be, others do not. Welsh explores this theme of porous fluidity in art through her most recent exhibit, Appearances & Reality, at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center through June 18th.
Welsh started creating works of art over 45 years ago. She and her husband (also an artist), spent two years traveling and studying on a two-year sojourn through Portugal, Spain, France, England, Holland, and Italy. During this time, they toured European art museums, galleries, cathedrals, palaces, country houses, gardens, and cities. It was here that Welsh learned her current technique. “I glue the images with acid-free acrylic medium onto birch or mahogany plywood panels prepared with acrylic gesso, and seal the work with several coats of clear acrylic varnish,” Welsh says. “Each frame is custom designed, and is hand painted with acrylics in patterns and colors suited to the particular collage.”
Many of the historical masterpieces Welsh encountered during her journey can be found in her works of art. Welsh chooses the historical relics, she says, “because, for whatever reason, they spoke to me. Because I found a visceral connection to a certain time and place.”
“It is a world of wonder, where we delight in both the physical and the fantastic,” says Brattleboro Museum Chief Curator Mara Williams of Welsh’s work. “While the framework is familiar, the content transforms the scenes into something exotic”
In addition to known historical landmarks, images from nature almost always find their way into Welsh’s work. That inspiration comes in large part, Welsh says, from living in Williamsville, Vermont, a village of 300 or so in the Township of Newfane, 12 miles from Brattleboro. Awe-inspiring nature scenes are literally out each window. “We like the seasons and the fresh air and our garden,” says Welsh. “This July, we’ll have lived here 40 years. The Rock River, which we live along, has worked its way into our hearts, minds, and souls.”