founder, Mary Carroll Nelson
April 29, 1929 ~ September 11, 2022
Mary Carroll Nelson
Mary was an artist and a prolific writer. Over her life, she penned many articles, wrote books reviews for magazines and journals, and authored over a dozen books dealing with art, Native American biographies for young readers, and metaphysics, while contributing to anthologies. Her titles include “The Legendary Artist of Taos”, “Beyond Fear”, “The Teachings of Don Miguel Ruiz”, “Crop Circles” and “An Art of Our Time”. Read more from Mary here.
Her art expressed her deep interests in images from space, the phenomenon of crop circles, spirituality, and the beauty of nature. Much of her later work was done in luminous ink stippled on Plexiglas.
"Two sources of imagery capture my imagination: dramatic color photographs from space and mysterious crop formations known as agriglyphs.
I allude to these sky and earth phenomena by stippling dots of ink on layers of acrylic sheet plastic. The dots are equivalents for energy, in both particle and wave form, moving between dimensions. Light passing through the layers animates the piece as various patterns are revealed from one hour to the next.
I think of my work as shrines.
My intention is to express the holistic concept that everything is connected — the tangible and the intangible, memory, history, now and then, here and there — across time and space."
In January of 1982, Mary began a campaign of letter writing to introduce the concept of Layered Art to selected artists whose work she knew. That spring she showed a modest collection of layered imagery to James Moore, the director of the Albuquerque Museum of Art. He scheduled an exhibition, “Layering, An Art of Time and Space” for the summer of 1985. Nelson spent three years curating the show, while gradually extending the number of artists to be invited to exhibit in it.
She found that although their work was not alike, many artists expressed similar ideas, especially to unifying theories such as space / time and the collective unconscious. Many artists told her they had encountered a sense of oneness because of a clarifying moment, a trauma or a vivid experience, and now invested their art with these references.
Lecaverne, Mary Carroll Nelson
photo from 2017 (L to R) Jaleh Entemad, Laura Pope, Mary Carroll Nelson Nancy Egol Nikkai, and Terri MacDonald
In 1982, she founded the Society of Layerists in Multimedia, a network for artists who express a holistic perspective. SLMM was inaugurated by the Albuquerque Museum in the summer of 1985 and hosted again on its 25th anniversary in 2007. Layered art has been exhibited in shows across the United States, Mexico, England, and France.
Mary Carroll mentored SLMM guiding us through 40 years, establishing friendships with so many of the members. She gathered artists for soirees in her home, creating connections that will last always. She has left us with so many connections to each other.