Interfering With Space: A Conversation with Mary Early
by Jean Lawlor Cohen
For years, Mary Early's modus operandi has been to plot the placement of
objects on floor plans and architectural elevations. Spaces, she insists, "activate"
the art that occupies them. She began, more than 15 years ago, by making cast concrete and wood
works sealed in a coating of beeswax. Later, she focused on fabricating objects generated by the multiplication
of small, primary elements. A ring of laminated wood, for example, could evolve with thousand-fold replication
into a dense cylinder, a standing hoop form, or an arch rising against a wall. These delicate, often untitled
structures suggested possible identities--wreaths, split-rail fences, and sawhorses--each one becoming, in
her words, "a three-dimensional drawing in space." More recently, Early has abandoned such solid armatures.
Intrigued by the natural properties of wax itself, she molds and pours that sensuous, luminous material for
installations large and small.