Artist's Statement

My purpose in making art is to evoke empathy in the viewer by tapping into fundamental human experiences: of being scared, being alone, being a victim, and being an aggressor. Using traditional two- and three-dimensional art practices such as printmaking and ceramics, I meditate upon these emotional states as they are expressed in images loaded with cultural references. The physical materials I use are most often earthy matter such as clay and graphite, and reference a genetic memory identifying with the landscape. Concern for our relationship with the planet is always present in my work as a generative theme.

The images I choose to work with stand in for the human figure, and allude to contemporary social concerns of power and vulnerability. Tiny house flies and small birds assume human proportions and posture. In a series of large charcoal drawings of dead flies, the emotional content is not mournful so much as alone and tired. The ceramic birds appear in postures that suggest loss and defenselessness. I want my work to be intimate and familiar. I know a piece is complete when I have imbued it with meaning and yet avoided both sentimentality and irony.

Mary Sweeney, Helicopter with Two Spirals, Graphite and molding paste on paper, 70" x 112", 2007