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I can never forget the place of my birth, Trinidad and Tobago, a twin island republic, where I grew to adulthood. The sights, sounds, smells are indelibly written into my psyche. My paintings speak to that knowledge, to memory and longing; not even decades of living in the USA have erased that part of my being. The poem below echoes my sentiments
by Derek Walcott
Broad sun-stoned beaches.
A green river.
scorched yellow palms
from the summer-sleeping house
drowsing through August.
Days I have held,
days I have lost,
days that outgrow, like daughters,
my harbouring arms.
My original art displayed on this site is inspired by my experiences in both the Caribbean and Madison, Wisconsin. My brightly colored art celebrates both the similarity and diversity of the human experience.
About Mary Gill
The bright flowing costumes of the Trinidad carnival was the backdrop for my vibrant story paintings. The swirling robes and capes of the maskers fascinated me. These dazzling colors and the shapes the garments made had fascinated me from childhood.
I was educated at the Bishop Anstey School for girls where the fine arts and music easily existed alongside math and the sciences, a model of schooling for girls which at that time and place promoted a revolutionary educational concept. My art teacher Miss Henderson gave me a foundation in painting and drawing. I remember painting a vibrant yellow and green croton plant against a bright blue tropical sky for the external General Certificate Examination. Even then my affinity for bright colors and textured paint had become a signature of my work.
I was not encouraged to pursue art as a career, indeed, my parents drew a sigh of relief when I went into teaching. I taught art for 18 years punctuated by obtaining my BS and MA degrees in art education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1988 I returned to the USA and University of Wisconsin-Madison to complete a PhD in education with a focus on art. I then taught art education at Western Illinois University for 10 years.
As a teacher there was little time to work at my art practice, but my creativity showed up in other ways. In Trinidad I started a business in designing fabrics and original women’s clothing and later, extended my fabric design into Japanese Nori paste stencils and silk paintings. None of these pursuits gave me lasting satisfaction, the colors were never bright enough, and the textural quality of pigment was not sufficiently evident.
In 2006 I moved to Atlanta GA where I took oil painting classes. As I gained confidence with the medium, I began to see my purpose as a painter of colorful stories. I was reluctant to show my work; it scared me to see what turned up on my canvases and what it revealed about my inner thought life. Gradually I saw my reluctance fade away and I began to show my work locally in Madison, Wisconsin and now have taken part in art walks, studio events and at an art incubator.
My work is unique and vibrant showing my love of color and rhythm inspired by my Trinidadian heritage. My style is distinctive featuring global subjects and cultural themes. Often, my depictions are of people of color, paintings that tell stories with an international reach. I believe that the stories I tell in my paintings are relatable because universally there are similarities in the what and in how we live our lives, often the only differences lie in the contexts in which these things are done. My paintings have a Caribbean context, but the background stories are universal.
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The originals are Oil on Canvas, both of archival quality. The prints are of the archival quality offered by the 3rd party printing service.
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