The natural world has many intrinsic similarities. I am fascinated by my realization that the root of a plant serves a similar purpose to the intestine in the human body. I am amazed at the complexity and mystery of the stars and the distant galaxies and struck by how much a satellite picture of that vastness resembles a microscopic image of our blood cells. I am intrigued by medical specimens; the idea that a small container can hold part of a plant or human for examination and study. I am drawn to intricate vines that cover houses and walls, as though decorated with lace. My work explores these many natural affinities and phenomena, drawing attention to the unity that exists between our humanity and the world we inhabit.

References from history, medicine and botany inform my work. Readings about hysteria and its impact on women in the 1800s was the driving force behind an early installation that merged pictures of hysterical patients with the constellations. As I played with overlaying the constellations on the various hysterical females, I was struck by how the pieces fit together like some mystical puzzle. Pairing two seemingly dissimilar elements and finding a connection is exciting to me.  Sometimes I place two images side by side, at other times, they are woven together into a single environment.

The work that I create is made up of many different materials from glass to ceramics to etching and wax. Over the past few years, I have been working with encaustic paint. The translucent beeswax layers allow me to create a sense of depth within the flat surface and the supple texture of the painting is luminous, resembling skin. I love having so many processes at my disposal. When making a piece, the decisions about idea and concept inevitably take into account what materials will best convey the intent. For me the driving force of the work is the idea.

A new publication, Keepsakes, is available at

© Mary Jane Parker 2013