Canadian-born sculptor and painter Mary-Ann Prack of Jefferson is exhibiting her work in a multi-media installation at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts in Boone through March 23.
“My work is my family,” Prack said. “I have a personal response and interaction with each piece.”
Entitled “Standing Still…in the Abstract,” the exhibit is a collection of 51 abstract figurative works evoking the human form through drawing, painting and, her primary medium, sculpture.
Her artist statement reads: “The human figure has been an infinite source of inspiration for me as an artist. My very personal expression of the human experience on a physical, emotional and spiritual level is revealed in each of the sculptures I create.”
The development of her personal yet accessible style, which she describes as “recognizable abstract expressionism,” has been the work of over 30 years. “I work non-stop,” she said.
Prack hand-builds each piece using a specially formulated clay which has a stone-like hardness, making it ideal for her substantial fired-clay constructions. Her sculpture varies in size and sense from plaque-sized, wall-mounted pieces, to larger, in-the-round statues.
“In-the-round” is the main idea in her concept and execution; each human figure embodies more than one distinct persona. “Every piece has two fronts,” she said.
Her figures have an architectural salience which makes them effective from a distance, but their detail rewards the viewer who inspects them closely, as if they were artifacts. The forms are abstract, but their color, texture and finish are concrete.
In her surface treatments, Prack uses a palette of fired glazes, oil-pastels and clear sealants; her pieces are alive with color, contrast and interior lines. On some, she uses an bare iron-oxide finish, resulting in a patina which changes slightly over time.
To date, she has completed approximately 400 sculptures, some of which later became the basis for bronze, brass, aluminum and stainless steel castings. She has had many requests from galleries, collectors and fellow artists to do large-scale, outdoor pieces in both clay and metal.
Among Prack’s early artistic influences were her mother, who was an artist, and her grandfather, father and uncles, who operated a family architectural firm. That she spent her pre-teen years in a milieu of designers and builders is especially evident in her sculpted works, which make the aesthetic declaration of statuary, but have the constructed presence of architecture — her creations are built.
Born in Hamilton, Ontario, Prack began her formal art education at the University of Guelph, and continued at the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale and Florida Atlantic University. She worked as an interior designer for four years before devoting herself to art full-time.
She began to sculpt with clay in 1981-82. “I was drawn to clay as a sculpture medium for many reasons; from my childhood remembrances, to the discovery of its unlimited potential for creative expression; and to the fulfillment of that comes with having complete control over every stage of the artistic process.”
Prack and her husband of 32 years, Bill Maler, moved to Jefferson 18 years ago “to take advantage of an atmosphere that amplifies the creative spirit.”
Prack’s work has garnered some critical acclaim. “The figure has been the subject for sculptors since the beginning of human history; to interpret the figure in an artistically original way at this point is almost impossible. Mary-Ann has accomplished this,” said sculptor John Henry.
“Mary-Ann Prack’s sculptures resonate pure harmony, balance, and the relentless positive spirit of humankind,” said Renee Phillips, Director of Manhattan Arts International.
A reception will be held from 7-9 p.m. Friday March 1 at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts.
The public is also invited to bring their own lunch for a “Lunch and Learn” from 12-1 p.m. Wednesday at the Turchin Center, where Prack will discuss her work.
View Mary-Ann Prack’s work at: www.prackart.com