My work concentrates on a select few forms. I have chosen certain shapes that I use in repetition to create larger objects. For example, hollow fluted shapes are fabricated in multiples, stacked, and assembled together to create a mass. This “mass” takes on variations; from a hoop shape resembling a skirt, to a dense circular ring resting on the floor, to an arch beginning at floor level and rising up to barely meet the wall. The sculptures can incorporate from three or four to over a thousand components, each component made up of its own multiple parts.


Each shape is created through a series of fabrication steps - measured, cut, and assembled by hand - resulting in subtle irregularities. When aggregated into a complete form, the sum of the repeated shapes exhibits a staggered and constantly changing pattern. Beeswax creates a smooth, rich, and seamless surface, alluding to naturally occurring forms, which on first glance appear unified and uninterrupted, but when examined closely, reveal creases or folds or other irregularities indicating their origin.


Works from a series of wreath sculptures numbered I - IV are assembled from delicate wood strips laminated together to form triangular structures that in turn create spheres of physical material and negative space. The works hint at split-rail fences and sawhorses, designed to contain but here used to define an immobile volume of space. The detailed construction process of these structures is ultimately concealed—once each triangular form is completed, it is sealed in beeswax. Each component leans into the next, contributing to the integrity of the overall form. The completed work becomes as a three-dimensional drawing in space.


In the installation Untitled (Kaisersaal), 2012, slender beeswax strips are assembled in long overlapping lines, creating a ghost pattern or image inspired by a diamond-shaped pattern found in the Imperial Room of Castle Salem. The endlessly repeating stone pattern creates an optical effect, immediately capturing the focus of those entering the room. Untitled (vault), 2012 refers to the architectural form found throughout Castle Salem. The vault is a universal form, providing physical stability to the building and inhabitants and at the same time demonstrating the symbolic stability and power of the setting. 


In summer 2012 I participated in an artist exchange at Schloss Salem/Castle Salem in Salem Germany. The historic site including a monastery, school, church, and grounds dating to the 12th century provided an opportunity to create new work in response to the site and elaborate on previous concepts of scale, space, and use of materials. The works created there were made with beeswax from the nearby agricultural region, offering an opportunity for direct interaction with the source of the material inherent to the work. In the interest of time I abandoned the use of any solid armature and began to pour long slender lengths of beeswax into temporary molds as a way to quickly render unique multiples of a precise form, thus creating hundreds of similar components that would be later assembled in a large open space. Over the years since this first experiment I have “poured” beeswax lines in different studios, for different installations, and with waxes from different sources. The production, or “pouring” of the beeswax elements serves as an observation of the time and space of the work itself. I am currently producing the cast beeswax elements for a large-scale installation of over 10,000 wax lines to be realized in 2017.


The installation Field (wax points), executed in 2014, consists of approximately 2,000 individual lengths of cast beeswax assembled in radiating lines and filling a long rectangular space. The lines radiate out from an unseen perspective point outside of the outlined rectangle. When viewed from one side, the perspective recedes drastically. From the other side, the lines widen away from the viewer to compete with receding perspective and suggest the appearance of parallel lines.


Recent works on paper and wood panel developed from schematic floor plan drawings for installations of lines. Multiplying intersecting lines coalesce around a perspective point, their increased density creating a highlight or concentration point. In turn, these schematic-based drawings serve as a durable and lasting precursor to the temporary installation process.


The objects I create are activated by the spaces they inhabit, and no single work exists outside of the place it resides. Architecture, historic and geographical context, and the viewer introduce the vital elements of scale, perspective, and experience.


Mary Early