Artist Flashcard: Mary Ivy Martin’s Got the Green Thumb

“On Being and Becoming,” 2013 (Mary chronicals the epic travels of a houseplant #plantvacation) “Face Faucet,” 2013

Each week Bushwick Daily brings you a new Artist FlashCard introducing an amazing artist living/working/showing in Bushwick who you need to know. Featuring both new and old faces, our goal is to encourage the growth of art scene and to appreciate wonderful talent in our hood! If you know of an artist you would like to suggest for Artist FlashCards, please fill out our online form.

Who: Mary Ivy Martin

Where: After living around the country include Virginia, New Mexico, and Arizona, Mary has been settled in Bushwick for the last several years, working out of a studio on Forrest Street.

What: An unexpectedly humorous, poignant, and sometimes even self-described “inappropriate” confluence between human subjects (often herself) and anthropomorphized plants and natural objects that is materialized in sculpture, performance, and photography.

Where You’ve Seen Her Work: You probably remember seeing Mary’s work at You Are My Sunshine last September at Associated Gallery, a show that receiving all kinds of praise from the neighborhood and the art world- even getting a nod from Mr. Jerry Saltz. In one of her most recent endeavors, Mary travelled with a houseplant, documenting the entire journey (check out the whole saga by searching #plantvacation on twitter and instagram), and make sure to visit Mary in her studio during this year’s Bushwick Open Studios.

Why We’re Into It: When I first was introduced to Mary’s work at Associated Gallery, I was struck by the amazing juxtaposition of the portrait she exhibited; I was reminded of school picture day, or retro family portrait in which everyone looks way too happy or awkwardly posed. Mary’s work embraces the awkward and the slightly uncomfortable in the relationships that she documents in many of her pieces. Although you might not be able to directly identify with her connection to a natural object, such as a common houseplant, you still immediately recognized and commiserate with a memory or feeling that it conveys.

“Trees Family” 2013

“My practice exists at the intersection of identity, sexuality, psychology, and ecology. I work with organic materials and objects that are often unwanted, abandoned or ignored,” Mary explains of her work. Utilizing a process-driven practice, Mary’s interaction with a natural object; like transporting a houseplant like a infant for a road trip, or kissing a tree branch repetitively, can be read as both intense and demanding, yet also humorous. While the implications of her work might not immediately be apparent, the action upon a relatively inanimate object recalls deep memories of attachment to certain objects or people; like that teddy bear we had to take everywhere when we were seven, or the ex that we couldn’t get out of our minds. What they share is a nostalgia for an experience or memory that resonates with each of us, even if not directly with a houseplant.

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