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Mary Jo Major

Calgary, AB

Artist Biography

Mary Jo Major was born in Edmonton, AB, and since then she has traveled widely. In Australia she taught and studied painting at the Melbourne Institute of Technology. In Indonesia she learned the art of batik, then studied at the Ècole des Beaux Arts, Aix-en-Provence, subsequently earning her BFA at Concordia University in Montreal, QC. In 1992 she received her MFA from the University of Calgary.

Mary Jo Major has achieved distinction as a painter and printmaker. Her work has been widely collected in such places as The New York Public Library, the Glenbow Museum (Calgary, Canada), the Whitechapel Library (London, England), the Canada Council Art Bank, and the University of Calgary Special Collections.

Artist Statement

Mary Jo Major is motivated to create art by the desire to record and share her deepest experiences. Inspiration often comes from the beauty of landscape or the incomparable power of colour itself. Paint is her medium of choice being overwhelmingly sensual, plus it offers to transform shape and colour into the substance of our wildest dreams.

Mary Jo also like paint’s unpredictability. When approaching her work, she usually has an intention in mind, but often, what she has in mind is different than what actually happens. Painting is a world of freedom, and like the real world, it evolves. Different elements interact; new expressions appear and disappear.

Yet when approaching a particular composition of trees or mountains, Mary Jo feels connected to the historical tradition of Canadian landscape painting. She has often begun a series featuring nature and local landscape, but expressed in colours particular to her personal discoveries. These landscape dominant canvases are less focused on resemblance and more inclined to explore the continuum between imagination and visual apprehension.

At times, colourful shapes happen to suggest horizons or clouds, but at the same time they fulfill some of the roles abstract painting intends: an open space, an emotion or a memory. The possibilities are varied and multiple. In this way many works have progressed from specific locations to abstract compositions.

Canvases that evolve beyond resemblance will carry elements of air, outer space, and time travel. There are no limits. They seem weightless. In the process, colour is freed from boundaries. Colour is itself the subject of the painting, revealing how we “see” both inwardly and outwardly. The works open a gradual progression of visual intensities, individual discoveries, and opportunities for reflection.

Though some paintings are lightly rendered, many are created through numerous layers and erasures of paint. As she works on each piece over several months or leaves and returns after a longer break, change becomes part of the experience, it reflects the natural process.

Paintings by Mary Jo Major

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