Mary Joyce

Red  |  City Gallery  |  July 7 – September 1, 2023

Artist Statement and Biography

In 2012 I began to make work celebrating resistance, inspired by actions of students in Montreal against proposed fee hikes in their post-secondary institutions. The red square held by a safety pin seen on clothing of persons active in city streets became the way to recognize this resistance. I took those elements into my work. Formally, the square is a flat shape, the pin is a planar form, a city can be anything and they are simple and exciting elements to work with. I exhibited this work in Edmonton and Montreal and have an upcoming show for it in St John, NB. It includes a large red felt hanging occupying the centre space in each gallery, suspended with giant brass safety pins from four corners, Some paintings from this group have shown in France, 

Now, almost a decade later, resistance has sent out roots that curl and twist and penetrate continents. Resistance is everywhere. Efforts to suppress resistance grow in ferocity, slyness, secrecy. The line of march of the resistors is complex, growing steadily as millions find themselves refugees, thrown off their lands, world nomads expected by the rulers to sell their labour anywhere without rights. With this upcoming show, I honour the line of march of resistors in several places on earth, eg.: Montreal, Sherbrooke, Saguenay Lac St. Jean,  Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Fredericton, India, Brazil, El Salvador, Palestine, Ukraine, Venezuela, Paris, and Mexico.

In 2012 I found ways to exercise my love for the process of printmaking while painting. I expanded methods of paint application: I use hand-cut and found stencils; collages of my drawings; sections of photographs printed on strong vegetable papers, like Mulberry; hand-made tools; elements printed in relief from my own and found plates. This gives me more freedom in mark-making, using space, abstracting elements in my mainly figurative work.

I set up my first studio in 1985 in the SNAP section of  Great Western Saddlery Building on 104 Street in downtown Edmonton. Since then I have made studios in my own two car garage, in a one room log cabin at Black Point, outside of La Loche, SK; the turret of a Queen Anne Mansion in Minnedosa, MB; a printshop over a metal recycling business in Hamilton and now a studio in my own backyard. 

I earned my Honours Art History and English BA at McMaster in Hamilton, ON, influenced significantly by Professor George Wallace, a printmaker, sculptor, and native of Ireland. He taught us that in art is freedom. A significant feature of the human right to freedom of speech is resistance, and silence when necessary.

Born in Montreal, raised in Sherbrooke, day schooled in a convent run by nuns, I was fascinated on Sundays listening to intense political discussions among the adults in my family, parents, uncle, auntie, grandmother, discussing Duplessis, who ran Quebec like his fiefdom. This is how I grew up loving art and politics.

In 1985, as a BFA graduate in printmaking from U of A, I was a founding member of the Society of Northern Alberta Print-Artists. My exhibition history comprises most of the public and artist-run galleries in Edmonton, many in Alberta, some throughout Canada, one in France. I maintain membership in AGA, SNAP, and MAWA, and support Border Crossings when possible. A period of living in Manitoba in the 1990’s brought about a strong connection to the women artists there that continues today. 

During the present period of global transition, I anticipate my exploration of the complexity of resistance to yield a reciprocal flow of energy between the movement and my work. I thank deeply the courageous humans who see the necessity to raise their collective voices in the fight for the rights of all.  

 Mary Joyce, June 2023
 (she, her)