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From the Studio: Mary Frank

Mary Frank's studio.

Over the coming weeks, we will be providing inside views into how our artists continue their practices to create new works of art, while sharing perspectives of their current, everyday lives. We are excited to welcome your thoughts about these features, as this initiative will bring together our friends, families, and colleagues. 

From Mary Frank:

Since we moved up from the city, when I am not in the studio, I am in the yard. When I garden, I focus not only on the beauty above ground of plants and trees, but also on all the roots and, yes, the phenomenon and activism of grassroots, needed now more than ever.

These days I use abandoned paintings, sculptures, paintings on stones, leaves, fungi (as artists have always done), and recycle them into new responses to our shattered lives and threats to earth, our only home. 

I like to paint on boards, cloth, sticks, stones, bones, and also on computers and refrigerators.

Think, if a work was seen not on a wall, but in the sun, on the floor, in a cloud blasted in winter weeds, or in a creek among rocks?

At this moment of vast unknowing, and longing to know, I wonder, what is art for? What can I do, make, and give to others? How do I meet the timeless human need to send offerings out into the world? To connect through music, images, words, color? To push the edges of imagination from what was, into what is, and how to live now that we have to reinvent our daily lives?

Before the shutdown, I was continuing my support for Planned Parenthood, raising over 20k by selling my Truth buttons at DC Moore Gallery, The Whitney Museum of American Art, small local shops, and by talking with people.

I must also continue my commitment to Solar Cookers International, to improve the health of humans and the environment.

Cooking fires increase deforestation and emit carbon dioxide, which leads to climate crisis. 1 million people die every year from pneumonia from cooking fires, which of course increases the risk of Covid-19.

The solar cookers cook fish, meat, rice, beans. They purify water and bake goods like bread and desserts.

I’ve worked with Solar Cookers International for 22 years, essentially since the beginning, when we would make our own cooker. Now, there are hundreds of designs available to buy, and they give free design instructions to make your own. In a hospital in India, they are cooking for over a thousand people every day.

Lately, I have been cooking salmon and sweet potatoes, as well as chicken and brownies.

Upstate, when I am not in the garden or studio, my husband Leo Treitler and I play the piano together in the evening. Leo is a pianist and musicologist. Making any music helps with the anxiety we are now living with.

We work, but one never knows what the consequences are of what we make, say, or do. These From the Studio emails are certainly resonating with me. I welcome any way that my work can be used to help in these times. 

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