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Mary payton

About the Artist

Mary Payton is a mixed media painter living in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. A lifelong artist, she has worked in many media, including fused and carved glass, clay, silversmithing, and photography. In 2015 an autoimmune disease attacked Mary’s body and she was left with a very rare neurological condition that affects her vision. The new way she literally sees the world spurred a return to the easel, and has inspired an exploration of abstract, non-representational paintings. Though it seems like an impossible task to represent her unusual vision in a single static image, her most recent work is a vigorous examination of how her eyesight feels emotionally. These pieces have been exhibited in several local and solo shows. The work is very vivid and generally considered happy and exciting, full of movement, and texture. Her work has been published in several books, and magazines.

About Artist’s Work:

My current work is focused on examining the unique way that the filter in my brain alters my vision. I am interested in trying to convey to the viewer how it feels to have so many visual disturbances. Most of my pieces are abstract expressionist landscapes. The history of objects is an obsession for me. I imagine what life this thing has had, where it existed, how it brought joy to someone’s day, or was used. I want my paintings to be the same way, to show history, to give clues to their making. My process involves layering watercolor pencil, ink, gesso, acrylic paint, oil pastel, spray paint, pigment stick, and gold leaf. I hope for the viewer to find a connection, or see something they recognize. Recently I have been seeking a way to incorporate the photos I have loved since childhood into my work, to bring my personal history to the canvas in a way that speaks to both the viewer, and to myself. Though the pictures I reference have very intimate meaning to me, the end result is universal. The juxtaposition of more refined, representational work on the figures versus the loose abstract landscape creates a visual vibration that thrills me. My most recent work is the direct result of living with a chronic illness, and the far-reaching affects it has had on every aspect of my life, including the loss of accurate eyesight. It is a carefully woven mix of representing how my brain now interprets the world, the act of painting as catharsis, and pushing bright, active, colorful work into the world. In the newest series “What You Don’t See”, images of people taken directly from family photographs, are transported into abstract expressionist landscapes. The photos fascinate me in an intellectual way, not just visually. I think about what was happening in the moment caught on film. Who may have taken the picture, why, where, and more so – what is happening in the life of these people that is NOT depicted in the photo? We don’t know any more about them when in the original setting, than we do when they are in an alternate space.

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