Mary Simpson

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What is my work about?

Painting will always be relevant because painting lives in every medium. (For example: painting as performance in the work of Jutta Koether or projected backdrops of Joan Jonas; as photography in the installations of Liz Deschenes; as sculpture in the monochromes of Anne Truitt). My practice is in painting and moving images. While viewing a painting I closely consider the way it changes: layers, color and light revealing moments beyond the initial surface, a two-dimensional image essentially becoming time-based. And the physicality of film, as well the classical composition of video–when projected can become a painting: the emulsion coated material capturing an image from light, the structural shots building up and adding to a composition much like layers in a painting. In film and painting I am continually asking: what are the significant and insignificant moments in an image? What does this tension reveal culturally as our relationship to still and moving images is rapidly shifting?


Artist Statement

Allegory is not a future problem. It relies on the past to retell the present. Allegory desires and consumes: the fragment, the imperfect, the incomplete. It promises to resolve the contradictions that confront culture, it is perpetually deferred. Allegory insists on abstraction and gesture within narrative space, producing something more like a pictogram than a story or a history. It is a supplement, it is excessive, it disseminates, it is a parody.

Painters insist that allegory is real. The allegorist arrives at symbol through intuition. She tends toward the mythological and psychological resonance of a landscape, a ruin, a surface. She collects without a goal, piles up the ruinous colors, poses and possible steps. This has been likened to obsessive neurosis. The directorial mode of painting does not bend to historical reference. You want to know exactly what it refers to, but you don’t. The allegorist is self-scattering, she adds another meaning to the image, poses as its interpreter. She enacts pentimenti, the “first thoughts”—previous traces within the work revealing that she has changed her mind. She stages disruption, she mocks her own obsessions. She aims for the metaphysical heart of parody. Parody is a serious matter.

We can think of an artist as producing a model for seeing an image, a model for the observer— not an image of the body but a body for the image.




Whitney Independent Study Program, New York, NY 2009-2010

MFA, Visual Arts, Columbia University, New York, NY 2007-2009

Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, Maine 2007

BA, English (Writing), Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA. Cum Laude. 1996-2000


2014 Creative Lab, Center on Contemporary Art, Glasgow, Scotland

2011 Kamov Residency / Art in General Eastern European Exchange, Zagreb and Rijeka, Croatia

2004 Centrum Residency, Fort Warden State Park, Port Townsend WA

Selected Exhibitions


Glass Puzzle, Simone Subal, New York

No Drink, No Talk, Just Beautiful, On Stellar Rays, New York


Hollow Center, Smack Mellon, New York


Now I am quietly waiting for the catastrophe of my personality to seem beautiful again,

and interesting, and modern, Bortolami, New York

Karina Bisch, Yelena Popova, Mary Simpson, Hilary Crisp, London


Tailgates and Substitutes, Thierry Goldberg, New York

Tom Burr (Collaboration), Almine Rech, Brussels

Offset Summary, Rachel Uffner, New York


Half a Self, a Cave Dweller, Saint Cecillia Parish, New York

Faculty Exhibition, Neiman Gallery, Columbia University, New York

Relax, Socrates Sculpture Park, New York

Whitney Independent Study Program Exhibition, Art in General, New York


How to Draw a Cathedral, Max Protetch, New York

MFA Thesis Show, Columbia University, Fisher Landau Center for Contemporary Art, New York

Young Americans, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle (solo show)


Bivouac, Neiman Gallery, Columbia University, New York

Floating Architectures and Constant Centers: Some Projections, Martin Art Gallery, Muhlenberg College, PA

Thermostat, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle WA


Thermostat: Video and the Pacific Northwest, Art Video Lounge, Art Basel Miami, FL

Nocturnes, Boise Art Museum, Boise ID

Billy in the Lowground, Punch Gallery, Seattle WA


The Wired Forest, Kirkland Arts Center, Kirkland WA

Works on Paper, Davidson Contemporary, Seattle

Wait Until Spring, Brother, Seattle (solo show)

Pause, Tacoma Contemporary, Tacoma WA


Nocturnes, SOIL Gallery, Seattle

Unearthing, SOIL Gallery, Seattle

Release & Capture—Kirkland Arts Center, Kirkland WA

Hello Central, Give Me Heaven, Hello Central, Give Me No Man’s Land, Tacoma Contemporary, Tacoma WA

Film Screenings and Lectures


Susan Howe, Emily Dickinson and Rosemarie Trockel, hosted by Mary Simpson, The Artists Institute, New York


Brick and Mortar Video Festival, Greenfield, MA


Supposition of the Now, CAM2 Madrid, Spain

Whitney Independent Study Program, The Kitchen, New York


Endless Summer—Selections from the Skowhegan Artist Residency Program, Northwest Film Forum, Seattle WA

Animations, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan ME


Betty Bowen Memorial Award Artist Presentation, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Seattle WA

Billy in the Lowground, Screening, Northwest Film Forum, Seattle WA

Projections, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle WA



Smithsonian Contemporary Artist Award Nominee, Washington, DC


Columbia University Teaching Assistance Fellowship, New York


Herbert S. Germaise Endowed Fellowship Award, Columbia University, New York


LeRoy Neiman Center Print Fellowship, Columbia University, New York

Jacob K. Javits Commended Scholar, Javits Foundation, New York

4Culture Special Projects Grant, Seattle WA

The Gay Clifford Award, The Slade School of Fine Art, London


Seattle Art Museum / PONCHO Special Recognition Award, Seattle WA

Betty Bowen Memorial Award Finalist, Seattle WA

Northwest Film Forum 16mm Equipment Access Grant, Seattle WA


4Culture Special Projects Grant, Seattle WA


“Glass Puzzle,” Goings on about town: Art, The New Yorker, July 21, 2014

Karen Rosenberg, “Glass Puzzle,” Art in Review, New York Times, July 3, 2014

Isla Leaver-Yap, “Mary Simpson: Leap/Linger” Afterall Online, November 2011

(Written by Mary Simpson): “Charline von Heyl: Now or Else,” Parkett Issue No. 89, 2011

Isla Leaver-Yap, “Mary Simpson: MAP Commission,” MAP Magazine, UK, June 2011

Claire Barliant, “Offset Summary,” The New Yorker, February 7, 2011

David Everitt Howe, ‘Studio Visit,’ Flash Art Online, January 28, 2011

Jen Graves, ‘Young Americans,’ The Stranger, May 5 – May 11, 2009

Regina Hackett, ‘Video Artists Take the Temperature of our Region at Seattle Art Museum’, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 21, 2008

Michael Darling, Art Basel Miami Beach, Exhibition Catalogue, December 2007

Fionn Meade, Nocturnes, Exhibition Catalogue, August 2007

Regina Hackett, ‘Visual Arts: Best of 2006’, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 29, 2006

Jen Graves, ‘In Arts News: Sovereign and Tantalizing’, The Stranger, Nov 23 – Nov 29, 2006

Suzanne Beale, ‘Billy in the Lowground’, The Seattle Weekly, Nov 22, 2006

Regina Hackett, ‘Compelling Installations’, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, November 17, 2006

Regina Hackett, ‘Visions of Nature in the Age of Technology’, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, October 27, 2006

‘Private Screening’, Seattle Metropolitan Magazine, September 2006

Nate Lippens, ‘Works on Paper’, Visual Codec, September 2006

Regina Hackett, ‘Davidson Contemporary is coming up fast on the contemporary scene’, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 18, 2006

Regina Hackett, ‘In the Galleries: August’, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 3, 2006

Jen Graves, ‘In Arts News: Wait Until Spring, Brother’, The Stranger, Apr 27 – May 3, 2006

Jen Graves, ‘Stranger Suggests: Projections’, The Stranger, Feb 2 – Feb 8, 2006

Nate Lippens, ‘Visual Art: Ones to Watch’, The Stranger, Oct 8 – Oct 14, 2005

Andrew Engelson, ‘Visual Arts Pick: Nocturnes’, Seattle Weekly, Sep 21 – 27, 2005

Nate Lippens, ‘Just the Motion: The Handmade Animation of ‘Nocturnes’’, The Stranger, Sep 8 – Sep 14, 2005

Fionn Meade, Nocturnes, Exhibition Catalogue, September 2005

Matthew Kangas, ‘Young talent leaves paper trail’, The Seattle Times, April 22, 2005

Nate Lippens, ‘On Exhibit – Group Shows: Released, Wanted, and Glimpsed’, The Stranger, April 7 – April 13, 2005

Regina Hackett, ‘NW artists deliver a superb flight of fancy in ‘Release & Capture’’, Seattle Post-

Intelligencer, March 25, 2005

Nate Lippens: ‘Stranger Suggests’, The Stranger, Mar 10 – Mar 16, 2005

Andrew Engelson, ‘Visual Arts Pick, Release & Capture’, Seattle Weekly, March 16 – 22, 2005

Jen Graves, ‘The Tollbooth beckons for thee’, Tacoma News Tribune, March 6, 2005

Nate Lippens, ‘Hello Central: A collaborative work on the nature of propaganda’, The Stranger, Feb 17 – Feb 23, 2005

Teaching Experience

Fall 2014, Adjunct Instructor, MFA Program, School of Art, George Washington University

Spring 2012—Fall 2014, Adjunct Instructor, School of Art, Cooper Union, New York, NY

Summer 2009—Fall 2014, Adjunct Assistant Professor, School of Art, Columbia University, New York, NY

Fall 2013—Spring 2014, Teaching Artist in Residence, Artists Space, New York, NY

Fall 2007—Spring 2009 Graduate Teaching Fellowship, School of Art, Columbia University, New

York, NY


• Studio Visit/Critiques, MFA program, George Washington University, Washington, DC

• Intro and Advanced 16mm Film, School of Art, Cooper Union

• Video 1: Introduction to the Moving Image, School of Art, Cooper Union

• Eye & Idea: Critical Theory and Artistic Practice, Columbia University

• Senior Thesis, Columbia University

• Imprinted Image: Basic and Advanced Intaglio Printmaking, Columbia University

• Graphic Image: Basic and Advanced Silkscreen Printmaking, Columbia University

• Relief Image: Introduction to Woodcut Printmaking, Columbia University

 Teaching Artist, Artists Space, New York

Fall 2013—Present

Designing and implementing new teaching initiative bringing 8th grade students at New York

PS140 on field trips to artists studios in the city and artistic and cultural institutions. Teaching

video shooting and editing as part of a larger artists in the schools program run by Artists Space

for elementary and junior high school students in lower income neighborhoods.