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Mary Heebner
simplemente maria press
Santa Barbara, CA

The Tragic History of Hamlet (spread)
artists book with letterpress, handmade paper (including watermark, pulp-painting,stenciling), pigment prints
16.5" x 12.5" x 2"


The Tragic History of Hamlet (cover)
artists book with letterpress, handmade paper (including watermark, pulp-painting,stenciling), pigment prints detail: end piece in book - watermarked handmade abaca with letterpress
15" x 11.5"


Through my art, I seek connection with the oldest made things and with the soil from which they were shaped. For over twenty five years, physical places have been wellsprings of inspiration for me: these include the dust-bitten badlands of the Southwestern US; the temple ruins of Southeast Asia; the ancient cave art sites of Southwestern France; Patagonia and Iceland’s rugged terrain, and the that of the Himalaya.

I find that an intense experience in a natural site, the smells, feel, touch and cultural memory, imbues the place with a sacredness that demands something of me. Making art is the form of translation I use to touch the nerve and glimpse at the mystery of being alive and connected to land and people across time.

I believe we stitch ourselves to the fabric of the land through art and language. I try to unearth ancient presences and evoke a sense of place through my paintings, collages, photography and fine art books.

Travel increases my sense of humanity, makes me take risks, reveals and undermines my prejudices, and stretches my conceptions about art.

I seek connections between human and earthen, the shared nature of our chemistries. I try to notice what is vivid about an idea and link that with a sensual and well-crafted process.

The series of prints that form the body of this project began as collage paintings on paper. My images are an attempt to conjure an emotional response to Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet.

Although this is a play about a son and his father, I was drawn to the characters of Gertrude and Ophelia through whom much of the play’s conflicts and emotional energy are reflected.

I made paintings, palimpsests of sorts, by covering over previously printed text, and then scraping back into the surface, leaving one to puzzle out meaning from fragments. In Hamlet, as fragments of vital information are lost, manipulated, or misinterpreted, the dark heart of tragedy is revealed.

Mary Heebner's work appeared in the following exhibition(s) organized by The Center for Book Arts

Celebrating Artist Members: 30th Anniversary Members Exhibition
 Organized by Roni Gross, Artist.
The Hamlet Project
(2005) Pigment print with graphite and letterpress text and gold detail on Somerset Velvet and Kitaka

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