Dolby Chadwick Gallery is pleased to announce Long After Forever, an exhibition of recent art by Mayme Kratz.
Kratz’s stunning mixed-media artworks give prominence to the natural world and the various life cycles that define its rhythms and beauty. Each piece features a dynamic composition of plant matter and animal bones, which she collects in and around her home of Phoenix, Arizona, and during adventures farther afield. Central to her work is an evocative layering in which natural materials are arranged to echo larger natural phenomena, such as glittering night skies and constellations, heavenly starbursts, secret gardens, intricate bird’s nests, and exotic archipelagos. Encased in layers of colored resins that Kratz sands down to a smooth, matte finish, the natural materials are not only memorialized but also transformed and reanimated, their beauty and evanescence given new meaning and life.
For this body of work, Kratz collected the majority of her materials within the city limits or along its fringes. These spaces are reminders of life that is vanishing due to urban development and climate change. “Patches of wild desert are disappearing rapidly as the city grows,” she explains, “and what’s left are the hearty, bold invasive plants.” Kratz finds herself drawn to these invasive species, interlopers in an unsteady world and testaments of profound change; the fringes also contain remnants of wildlife, such as the skeleton of a deer, a snake in the road, and bits and pieces of insects, but in numbers that pale in comparison to prior years.
Kratz’s works are attempts to capture the fragility of nature, heightened in recent decades, and the ephemerality of life, including our own. “The measure of time is always my companion, following me throughout the day and finding a way into the work I create.” She operates much like a poet in her sensitivity to even the smallest of details and her ability to distill the core of a feeling or an essence—an unsurprising affinity given her love of poetry.
The title of one of her works, My Night That Has More Night to Come, is drawn from “Night,” a poem by John Haines in which he describes the spell nature casts during her darkest, quietest hours. Kratz, in turn, explains that My Night That Has More Night to Come “is about my experience of sleeping under the stars in Utah’s Bears Ears wilderness and the insight and awareness of the ancient culture all around me as well as the immense feeling of this sacred landscape.” With its deep blue tones evoking the tranquillity of nightfall and bits of juniper loam and yellow dyssodia blossom immortalized as celestial wonders, Kratz’s work captures the depth of her experience and the mystery of Haines’s poem. Perhaps most striking is the circular arrangement of deer sacrum and metatarsal, their wing-like protrusions recalling avian flight. It is here that we discover one of the artist’s central enterprises: the celebration of life even in death, the translation of nature’s wonders into something beyond time, and, ultimately, transfiguration itself.
Mayme Kratz was born in 1958, in San Diego County. Her work has been exhibited at the San Jose Museum of Art, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Tucson Museum of Art, the Scottsdale Museum of Art, and the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, among other institutions. She is currently showing as part of Breaking Up, a group exhibition at the Phoenix Art Museum that will run until 2024. In 2020–21, she participated in the group exhibition Unapologetic: All Women All Year at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Kratz has received numerous recognitions for her practice, including a Contemporary Forum mid-career award and exhibition at the Phoenix Art Museum in 2011 as well as residencies with the Art in Embassies Program, the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, and the Pilchuck Glass School. Her art can be found in public and private collections throughout the United States. This is her third solo exhibition at Dolby Chadwick Gallery.