Over the last three decades, Mary Weatherford has developed a rich and diverse painting practice, from early 1990s paintings based on operatic heroines and ancient circular timelines, to the expansive, gestural canvases overlaid with neon-filled glass tubes that brought new attention to Weatherford’s practice in the 2010s. Canyon–Daisy–Eden presents a selected survey of Weatherford’s paintings, drawing from several distinct bodies of work made between 1989 and 2017. Seen together, they reveal the continuity of Weatherford’s interests in landscape, history, and human experience.
Originally from Ojai, California, Weatherford earned her B.A. in art and art history from Princeton University. In 1985, she participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program where she developed her earliest paintings, some of which include colored targets, stains, and silkscreened images of flowers, vines, and female figures titled after literary heroines. She earned an M.F.A from the Milton Avery School of Fine Arts at Bard College in 2006.
A profound and longstanding study of nature is reflected in other works from the late 1990s and early 2000s, when Weatherford incorporated elements of assemblage into a series of stained canvases, including seashells, sponges, and starfish. In 2005, Weatherford embarked on a pivotal series of paintings based on plein-air drawings she made of a sea cave on Pismo Beach, a coastal area a few hours north of her studio in Los Angeles.
Her 2012 Bakersfield Project was the first series of paintings to incorporate neon and revealed a new way of making that occupies the artist to this day. The works reflect Weatherford’s previous engagement with gestural forms and immersive scale and are drawn from memory using a variety of techniques and art historical references from Barnett Newman to Georgia O’Keeffe. From her earliest paintings, colors and mood of the works indicate shifting light and atmosphere, often evoking a specific time, locale, and temperature, such as Greek seafood restaurant murals and liquor store neon signs seen while driving at dusk.
Mary Weatherford: Canyon–Daisy–Eden is organized by guest curator Bill Arning and Tang Museum Dayton Director Ian Berry in collaboration with the artist. Thanks to Gagosian, David Kordansky Gallery, and Friends of the Tang for their support.
Photographer - Noah Menard