Mary Holland's work will be on display in the exhibition "The Magic Show," at the mezzanine at Quirk Hotel March 16 to May 7. (Photo by Sarah Walor)
It’s only fitting that Mary Holland’s upcoming exhibition at Quirk Hotel was created when she had to change course during an artist residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts last May. Holland is director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Studio School and has taught experimental printmaking there for nearly three decades. She had intended to use the residency to create a series of cyanotypes, but her plans were thwarted when it rained the entire week of her residency — cyanotypes rely on sunlight. Instead, Holland retreated to the studio with a portable Gelli Arts printing plate to do some experimenting herself.
“I just started playing around,” she recalls. “The printing process can be laborious, but this was a very immediate way to work. It was a lot like painting or drawing.”
Holland experimented with patterns and colors, printing them onto paper. She then cut the printed paper into shapes and combined them with fragments of decorative paper, maps and sheet music to create colorful, mixed-media collages.
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“Right Hand,” mixed-media collage
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“The Lion Tamer,” mixed-media collage
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“The Traveler,” mixed-media collage
“I did all of the work with no preconceived notions,” she says. “It was much more playful and organic.”
The exhibition is called “The Magic Show,” and Holland says she imagined the characters in her prints to be members of a carnival or circus troupe. Though her current work is characterized by its vibrant colors, for years Holland worked exclusively in black and white.
These new prints also convey her ongoing interest in travel and dream imagery. “I love the way maps look,” she says, “and they are very evocative. The whole idea of travel is something people can bring their memories, or hopes, to.”
Holland says she enjoys printmaking because “you have to give up some of the control of painting or drawing.
“You have these happy accidents you didn’t plan on,” she says. “It makes for fresher work and frees you up to be open to other things.”
Don't Miss: Washington, D.C., artist Alison Cooley will show her energetic, multimedia paintings alongside works by San Francisco Bay Area artist Stephanie Weber. March 3 through April 1. Page Bond Gallery, 1625 W. Main St. pagebondgallery.com