Mary Engel

Athens, Georgia

Artist Statement:

My lifelong love for animals, including humans and the connection I feel with them inspires me to sculpt. The depth of love given to and received from my dogs since I was a little girl is immeasurable. My current pack, Gabrielle and Tinkerbelle make me walk, play and laugh every day.

Many of my sculptures are commissions for patrons using family heirlooms and sentimental objects including their father’s watch, grandmother’s button collection, daughter’s barrette, keys, coins, jewelry, porcelain figurines, dog tags and dice. Collectors share pictures of their favorite pet and sometimes I get to meet my muse. I love that each patron believes that they have the best dog or cat in the world.

I am fascinated by the animal archetype as it is found in diverse cultures’, whether similar or disparate. We know the first intentional burials with ritual objects occurred 35,000 years ago and, with them, the first expressions of human faith appeared. Among these objects, a predominant burial image was the animal. The use of ritualized animal images has had enduring religious, mythic, and aesthetic significance. For me, these images symbolize a bridge between the rational and instinctual worlds.

My sculptures are not meant to represent a single myth, fable or archetype. Interpretation comes from the viewer’s imagination, belief system and personal connections to their ‘herd’, ‘pack’, or ‘cub’. Through my work, I aspire to create whimsical, animated creatures using gesture and ‘movement’ to capture a presence I feel animals possess.

marcia wood gallery