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A Fascination With Flowers

Mary Fisher fills a frame with a burst of color and line that approximates a pot of flowers, and in doing so affirms her subject's value. What comes across in this work, what gets shared, is the miraculous and contagious vitality of flowers. Fisher's creations are a generous expression of her spirit, which makes the work eternally relevant.

Fisher's images are made differently from most we might see. She doesn't use paint or print, but paper: raw pulp mixed with pure pigments and held together by a vegetable binder. The process is fascinating and beautiful to watch.

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Working at Rugg Road, the premier papermaking and printmaking studio in Boston, Fisher floods the skylit space with real flowers and gets started. She may have some rough ideas and sketches already in mind, but for the most part it is the storehouse of energy and inspiration inside her that makes things happen.

The pulp, the texture of oatmeal, gets floated into frames in large sinks full of water. Bits of colored paper also find their way in as the artist begins building what will become the foundation and background for her images.

This first stage of the process is more important than it looks. As carefree and loose as it may seem, this beginning will dictate the mood and direction of the final work. Because the approach is so intuitive, her responses to each still-life setting will be ongoing. The openness with which she works keeps play at a premium and possibilities at a maximum.

When Fisher is satisfied with these simple background shapes and colors, the sink is drained and the fibrous materials settle against the screen at the bottom of the frames.

With her flower selection in front of her, she gets down to the fun of deciding what these flowers will be doing, what kinds of shapes will be interacting (vase, leaves, flowers, etc), all the while making use of a vast palette of pulps in buckets and squeeze bottles.

Some areas of color are worked so thickly with her fingers that they resemble relief sculpture, while others get spread thin with the palm of a hand.

She works, as she says, spontaneously. The flowers mingle with her imagination, are ``baptized'' in the water, and are preserved in the paper. It is a poetic act of contemplation, release, and motion: a vision set loose in the passionate fusion of all things in a moment.

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However long this period lasts, when it is over, the picture is done, and does not get reworked. The results are gently pressed together by suction and then stacked for the long drying period.

Mary Fisher came to art late, and doesn't mind telling people that she has no training. She knows this is a good thing, that it means freedom.

She also knows that she can only do what she does, but she doesn't worry: She just does it. There is a directness and openness, a freshness and unexpectedness to her pictures that is like her and the flowers she cherishes.

These paper pieces tell of a plain but mystical state of being, of innocence and bliss, of becoming and even attainment. Given the often-stated grim facts of life, they may seem extraordinarily naive; however, Mary Fisher puts her faith in flowers not in denial of such truths, but in answer to them. She gives us flowers because she knows they are powerful.

Mary Fisher admits there is a lot about art that confuses her, alienates her, and is different from how she thinks of herself. Nonetheless, she is freed by it, and she knows it is something good.

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