Current Artist Showing

Mary LaCasse:  Artist, Author, Educator

Mary LaCasse is a visual artist, author and educator who splits her time between Portland, Oregon and Danville, California.

After a dozen years of working in corporate design and advertising, she returned to fine arts in mid life and earned an MFA. She was awarded a teaching fellowship at the University of Oregon and then spent twenty years as an art and design instructor and administrator at Portland Community College.

Mary paints, draws, takes road trip pictures and adds new media when an idea presents itself. In recent years, her grandchildren have brought fresh energy into her studio and her artworks. “Play” has been a priority. She teaches workshops on intuitive mark making and “writing as image” when she is not traveling, hiking, gardening, or hanging out with her grandkids.

Her work is in private and public collections.  Following is a brief description of the artworks in this exhibit:

“EMERGENCE” is a new series of large, intuitive paintings that were inspired by “finger painting” with my grandchildren in the studio. I saw how much fun the kids were having and tried it myself. It was a blast!

Eventually, I experimented with Crisco like tempera paint spread by hand onto large, thick, taped together sheets of paper. I loved the way images spontaneously emerged as the painting developed. Sometimes figures appeared, often standing in water. Snakes, chickens, monks, and angel shapes moved in and out of the composition. I never new who or what would show up. A variety of images created using this process are included on the walls in the exhibit. Viewers are encouraged to try the process themselves! We are never too old to play (although you may wish to wear plastic gloves).

Also on display are remnants from previous shows I’ve had over the years.

“DICTATION FROM THE SOUL: Writing the Image” involves “free writing” to discover ideas and create drawings using chalk pastel on paper.  Many layers go into this process and the results are always a surprise. Any media and scale can work with this idea, including pencils, markers, paint, sketchbooks, and canvas.

“INNER AND OUTER LANDSCAPES” evolved while making artwork based on imagery found in dreams, myth and the natural landscape. I also took photographs and made a few “odd” sculptures. For many years, I kept track of dreams and worked some of the characters, animals and settings into big black and white charcoal drawings. Myth, social issues, and stories were also a source of inspiration. The Cherokee myth about two hungry wolves that live inside each of us generated “Which One Shall We Feed.” At the same time, I was writing and painting in small journals while I traveled. A few larger drawings were made on site in Zion National Park.

Along with the drawings, I began to take “Road Trip Photos.” When I didn’t have time to stop the car, I simply pointed the camera out the window without looking through the viewfinder and clicked the shutter. For safety reasons, I never took my hand off the steering wheel or my eyes off the road.  When I got home, it was always fun to see what fleeting moments and unusual details the camera had captured. Out of maybe 200 images per trip, perhaps 5 might have held some odd, interesting or political “magic.” No images were cropped or manipulated by the computer.

“FACES FROM KENYA” was a collection of pastel drawings of women and children I made after touring schools and wildlife parks in Kenya a number of years ago. The women seemed strong, proud and beautiful, their children cherished despite the harsh conditions in which they lived. In some images, I used film “negatives” from which to capture (not surprisingly) the sense of role reversal I felt there—that I was an outsider, white, a minority, and viewed with suspicion. I still think of the statuesque Samburu woman who at age twenty-one was mother to five young children, two of whom were tucked into colorful cloth tied to her body.

“SIFTING THROUGH GOLD: Precious Women Elders Comment on Aging, Turning Points, and Love” is a book project and website that took nearly three years to complete. In it, I describe my relationship with five elder women friends and share their stories, writing, poetry, artwork, and answers to questions about what really matters to them after having lived a very long time. Physical limitations have not deterred the spirit or will of these women to live rich, creative and meaningful lives. Included in the book are questions and ideas for readers who wish to collect stories of the women elders in their lives.

I hope you enjoy this “Journey through the Imagination, and the Blessings of the Creative Process.”

Peace to you.

Mary LaCasse

Connecting with Artists

We hope you enjoy our list of artist resources. These links will take you away from the Peace site.  Please visit again!

Also see our Resources page for additional links.