Columbia Gorge Model Railroad Club, Portland, OR, archival pigment print, 20 x 30 inches, 2016.
Tracks and trails, Balboa Park Model Railroad Museum, archival pigment print, 20 x 20 inches, 2016.
Vashon Island, WA, archival pigment print, 20 x 30 inches, 2016.
United flight 1043 between Boston and San Francisco, archival pigment print, 20 x 30 inches, 2015.
Near Mouton Falls, WA, archival pigment print, 20 x 30 inches, 2015.
I am always looking at landscape. I wake up and look out the window, almost as a touchstone to feeling my humanity, finding my place in a larger world. I love being a passenger in a car staring out at the world as it goes by. Even as a driver, I am still looking. I always book a window seat on an airplane. Whether it is my backyard, a mountain range, a pond or an ocean, a forest or a desert, landscape is a way of shaping space. As a photographer I arrange this space within the frame of my viewfinder, organizing the physical world to my liking, making it resonate with how I perceive the world. Where the horizon falls shapes the relationship between earth and sky, sky and water, or water and earth. A meandering path, or wave, or the shape of a hill draws one into the space. We feel big or small depending on how the landscape shapes the space.
Some of these new landscapes are not real, but are model railroad environments. At first glance, we might not be sure which ones are real, and which are models. Seen together, they seem to make the photographs of the "real" landscapes I am drawn to feel a bit unreal, with uncertainty about size and scale. The miniature worlds of model railroaders are amazing, yet it is the landscape rather than the trains and tracks which hold my mind, my eye, my imagination. In the end, for me, it is still about how land shapes space. And about how space shapes awareness.
For more than forty years, my discipline has been (and will continue to be) straight photography. My work is about looking and seeing, using the frame to capture the moment of perception. As a photographer, I am rooted in the phenomenal world, yet my subject matter is not so much the physical places in front of my lens, but rather the emotional and elemental quality of the space itself. The Buddhist teachings say that the world we perceive is like an illusion, as vivid as a dream but just as insubstantial. Habitually our grasping minds solidify perception the way a camera shutter freezes a moment of time. These landscape photographs, both real and constructed, make us wonder what we are looking at. Looking closely, or stepping back a few feet, reveals the unreality, the illusion, the constructed nature of these miniature worlds. Would that we could lift the veil of illusion as easily on our full-size worlds, the ones we solidify and inhabit day to day, the portable stage sets that convince us that our truth is the truth, and not something we constructed as our own model version of the world.
More and more, I try to express the possibility that we can trust our experience as it unfolds, moment by moment; that we can pay attention without fear to the details of everyday life, held within awareness without boundary. That awareness is the intimate space gazing out a car window or the atmospheric space of early morning fog. It is the contemplative inner space of a quiet ordinary moment, the space between the in breath and the out breath, a gap full of loneliness and possibility.
Mary Lang was included in the 2004 DeCordova Annual Exhibit and was a recipient of an artists Grant-in-Aid award from the St. Botolph Club Foundation in 2006. She has been an artist-in-residence at Crater Lake National Park and at the Weir Farm in CT. She exhibits locally, as well as in galleries in Washington DC, Seattle, WA and Portland, OR. Her work has been reviewed in The Boston Globe and Art New England; her 2014 one-person retrospective exhibit, Like Water, at the Trustman Gallery at Simmons College was reviewed by Mark Feeney. Her photographs are included in collections at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Fogg Museum at Harvard, the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, and the Fidelity Corporate Collection, among others and in many private collections. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Photography from Pratt Institute and a Bachelors of Arts from Smith College. She teaches meditation and Shambhala Buddhism at the Boston Shambhala Center in Brookline. Her recent collaboration with poet David Rome, The Bottom of the Sky, a 60-page book of photographs and haiku, is available on lulu.com.
Relay, January 4-29, 2017
I Know Just What You're Saying, January 6-31, 2016
Nothing that is not there. December 2-27, 2015
Al Miner Selects: All Natural, September 2-27, 2015
Gazing Into Space, November 5-30, 2014
Inhabitants, December 4-29, 2013
All the Members: Gifted, September 4-29, 2013
Big HUGE small works, December 5-23, 2012
Raising the Gaze, October 3–28, 2012
XXX: Kingston Gallery Annual Members' Exhibition Thirty Years as an Artist Run Gallery, September 5–30, 2012
Kingston Gallery Annual Members' Exhibition, August 31-October 2, 2011
New Photographs, June 29-July 31, 2011
"Photographic postcards from Mary Lang" Kingston Blog, Thinking About Art Out Loud, January 29, 2016.
"All Natural: A Conversation with Al Miner." Kingston Blog, Thinking About Art Out Loud, September 4, 2015.
Al Miner Selects: MFA Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art Conceptualizes a Kingston Members' Exhibition, September 2015.
Davidson, Deborah. "Art New England Review of Mary Lang's November exhibit." Kingston Blog, Thinking About Art Out Loud, January 19, 2015.
Davidson, Deborah. "Slow Down." Kingston Blog, Thinking About Art Out Loud, November 14, 2014.
McQuaid, Cate. "Outside and in touch." The Boston Globe, Arts: Galleries, November 11, 2014.
Davidson, Deborah. "Congratulations to Mary Lang on the review in The Boston Globe by Mark Feeney!!" Kingston Blog, Thinking About Art Out Loud, April 3, 2014.
Davidson, Deborah. "Mary Lang at the Trustman Gallery." Kingston Blog, Thinking About Art Out Loud, March 23, 2014.