Mary and Joseph installation at Williams Gallery

Mary-&-Joseph-installationMARY AND JOSEPH, by Jean Reece Wilkey, fabric, wood, paint, glass, ceramic, clips, twine, fruit. 2012/13

The faculty triennial exhibition, In This Corner, opened today at the Williams Gallery at New Mexico State University. Curated by author, educator, curator Linda Weintraub, she asked the artists to focus on the corners of the gallery in creating the work.

Mary-&-Joseph-entranceThis work has its roots in my interest in how our perceptions color our interpretations of both our inner, spiritual world and the outer, physical aspects of the individual; in how we relate to the world around us and interpret our relationship to it. In the Republic, Plato, cited the concept that true reality (the idea) exists only in the mind of God, that the actual objects we make are a mere semblance of that, and the painted view is but a mimetic contrivance revealing a dimly understood version of the idea in God’s mind. American conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth (b. 1945) references this concept in his artwork, One and Three Chairs (1965); I reference it again here in an exploration of our relationship to reality.

Mary-&-Joseph-mirrorOur perception of reality is based on our thoughts and acquired knowledge and doesn’t adequately reflect the true reality of the idea in the mind of God. It is as if dimly seen through a mist; an inadequate reflection symbolized by the reflection in the glass. The cloth at once obscures or hides the landscape beyond and simultaneously frames the objects in front of it. Referencing paintings of the Madonna enthroned (Mary), the cloth isolates and becomes a form for re-framing – a sort of deifying of the world of nature.


The fruit represents our physical bodies created in the nature made by God and our inner life of the spirit. The curtain obscures and partially reveals the landscape beyond, a world as yet unknown and only glimpsed. The table becomes pedestal, the support for that which we deem important. Front and center, framed by fabric, enthroned as it were, the fruit becomes prominent once again and central to both our thoughts and our lives.

Mary-&-Joseph-installation-shotSome of you may recall the painting in progress as seen in the post of my studio last year. The show is up until 23 February. Please stop by if you are in the Las Cruces area.


 Mary and Joseph, painting, oil on canvas, 36 x 30 inches.