Mary Curtis Ratcliff: MOTION VARIATIONS

March 26, 2021 – May 1, 2021


In her first major solo exhibition since 2018, Mary Curtis Ratcliff presents Motion Variations comprised of three large kinetic sculptures and a series of two-dimensional works. The sculptures, Exoplanets and Technicolor Trees are kinetic, suspended works that incorporate natural imagery verging on abstraction: in the first, wave patterns, in the second, branches. A third new piece, Bay Fugue is the most recent and ambitious of the kinetic sculptures, comprising five suspended circular elements up to four feet in diameter, each hand painted on both sides.

Ratcliff’s sculpture explores the healing properties of art. Embodying the ephemeral qualities of nature and perception, they evoke calm, ease, and peace in the viewer. In 2018, she launched the website Healing Circle Artworks to explore the placement of art in hospitals and public spaces.

The two-dimensional works in Motion Variations are mostly from the series ScrapWorks, created during the COVID-pandemic quarantine. Unable to work with her usual printers and fabricators, Ratcliff turned to her own studio resources and found scraps with traces of digital printing on them in her flat file drawers: circles, corners and straight trimmings left over from earlier works, some of them saved for years.  The results are an entirely new series of over two dozen pieces made in the spring and summer of 2020, many being presented for the first time in this exhibition.

Mary Curtis Ratcliff majored in sculpture at the Rhode Island School of Design in the 1960s, and then moved to New York, where she was a founding member of the radical collective Videofreex. After her move to California in 1973, Ratcliff’s wind sculptures and ceremonial pieces were used in the early eco-feminist movement; later works continued to unite fabric and craft with a sculptural sense of design. Beginning in 1999, Ratcliff concentrated primarily on 2-dimensional work, integrating photography, drawing, painting, and image transfer techniques in multi-layered, intricate explorations of nature, pattern and perception. Over the past five years, she has returned to circular, kinetic sculptures that now incorporate her photographic imagery.

Ratcliff’s artwork has been shown in well over one hundred exhibitions around the world. It is represented locally in the collections of the Oakland Museum of California and The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. She has participated in residencies in the United States, France, Japan, and New Zealand. She lives and works in Berkeley, CA and is a member of both Oakland’s Mercury 20 Gallery and the Siy Gallery in San Francisco.

All work listed below is for sale. Click on the image to purchase.

Technicolor Trees, 2019, acrylic on plexiglas, monofilament 48 x 46 x 28 in. $4,000
Sequoia, 2019, watercolor, colored pencil on digital inkjet print mounted on Plexiglas, wood, metal 45 x 44 x ¾ in. $1400
A Break in the Clouds, 2020, collage, colored pencil on digital inkjet print 44 x 70 in. $2000
River, 2020, digital print collage mounted on wooden panel 4 ¾ x 5 ¾ x 1 in. $125
Quilt, 2020, watercolor on paper mounted on wooden panel 18 x 18 in. $350
Box Squared (2), 2020, digital printing on paper, acrylic on tyvek 30 x 30 in. $350
Out of the Box, 2020, acrylic on paper collage on papyrus 25 x 25 in. $350
Star, 2020, acrylic, paper collage mounted on wooden panel $350
By the Sea, 2020, milky acetate collage on acrylic and tyvek, 36 x 36 in. $700
Portal, 2020, acrylic, paper collage on tyvek 36 x 36 in. $700
Cosmic Slinky, 2020, acrylic, paper collage on Tyvek, 36 x 36, $700
Exoplanets, 2019, acrylic, colored pencil, Japanese ink brush pen and digital inkjet print on milky acetate, steel, monofilament 64 x 60 x 58 in. $4,250
Danuta Five Times, 2020, digital ink jet prints on handmade paper 24 x 17 in. $400