Artist's Statement

Mary Curtis Ratcliff’s photographic compositions are the product of a prolonged meditation on her surroundings. Camera in hand, Ratcliff works intuitively, seeking to capture raw images that while often mysteriously complex, are infused with a sense of calm. Once back in her studio, the images are converted to monochrome and digitally printed on an archival substrate. The surface of the print is then meticulously handworked by the application of thin acrylic washes of color, the addition of solvent-based transfers, collaging of other photos, and drawing with ink, colored pencil or graphite. Ratcliff’s stunning multi-layered compositions are poetic evocations of time and place, paradoxically anchored by the underlying subject matter, compositional structures, and tonality of the original photograph but freely drifting through seas of higher consciousness.

Peter Honing, Mercury 20 Gallery, 2013

My current work has been the Arborescence and Light Play Series. All the pieces are mixed media works on archival paper. Both series use original photographic images taken in New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Washington State and Southern India.

The process of transforming these images begins by reducing the color images to grey scale. I then select which colors and images will make up the final work. Once the layout is complete the image is then printed with an Epsom 9600 printer. The pigmented ink jet prints use ultrachrome ink and are approximately 40 × 30 in. The images are then mounted on wooden panels using a labor-intensive heating process. The panels are 2 in. deep allowing the final work to stand off the wall. All works are protected from ultraviolet light and dust with a coat of varnish.

Some of these works are left untouched after they are mounted. Most are detailed with multiple layers of thin acrylic washes that are applied to the surface to build up color. In addition to this medium, I use drawing, collage and transfers. All of these processes consider the underlying structures of tree branches, water, landmasses, luminous lights etc., so that they are not lost and continue to create a strong visual statement.

–Mary Curtis Ratcliff, 2007