“These works merge personal iconography with collectively built archetypes to depict a mythologized reality comprised of both mundane experiences and mysterious rituals. Born from the everyday, these quiet paintings, while small in size, invoke monumental and other-worldly dimensions.” -Mary Laube
Working remotely with minimal supplies, Mary Laube began a series of watercolor sketches and collages during a residency in Wales in the summer of 2017. The attic studio, housed within a 200-year-old building, as well as the surrounding village served as a reservoir for Laube’s research. Architecture, weathered furnishings, imagery culled from bookshelves, and long strolls through nearby graveyards and gardens found representation within her works. These studies were brought back home to her studio in Knoxville, Tennessee where she began painting through a process of drawing, masking, and layering. The resultant images are flattened cutouts that lack the specificity of their mixed origins. Tombstones become radiators, gardens inhabit interiors and the legs of a table entrap. Through the honing of form, familiar household objects resist a simple interpretation and speak of memory, loss, and the ethereal. 

Executed prior to Laube’s time in Wales, the works comprising Glint investigate the theme of transformation. In Cormere, Laube only includes what is essential: A stoic radiator hovers above the floorboards and wall, fixed with a matching pair of rectangular vents. The viewer’s gaze circles a matrix of lines forming a mesh-like structure, without breaking past the picture plane. Absence of spatial depth keeps us on the painting’s surface. Embedded within the static, compressed perspective is a latent energy, capable of coalescing into three dimensions, like the closed pages of child’s pop-up book. The skewed viewpoint of Jacob’s Ladder is only notable in the horizontal wooden rungs: both wall and floor are reduced to fields of color and only hint towards an interior. Assuming the vantage point of a toddler, we are contained by the merging of the ladder’s component parts and shadows, preventing our gaze from moving beyond the object in any direction. Caught within the painting, we retrace the same paths, as though confined within an old memory or recurring dream.

The confrontational use of perspective and simplification of forms unify Laube’s ouvre, prying the imagery from its commonplace surroundings and elevating it to a mystical play of light and color. The works are tactile, but somehow escape the gravity of the objects represented therein. We are trapped within the stark embellishment of form. The patterning of a paper window blind or legs of a table become retaining bars. Claustrophobic cropping, as seen in Narrow Gauge, withholds interpretable information, catching us in short laps of repetition.
Only in Stilled Clatter are we allowed respite. Past the familiar confines of a wooden structure and its shadow, a field of light emanates. What beckons us beyond this indiscernible space? An afterglow? Vestiges of a distant recollection? Or some tantalizingly distant, intangible place?