New Sheehan Gallery art exhibition explores environmental spaces, consequences

Emma Dahl

A new exhibition entitled “EGRESS: The Paintings of Mary Iverson” will open this weekend in Whitman’s Sheehan Gallery and will run from Oct. 19 to Dec. 7. Iverson’s paintings feature scenic natural landscapes that have been cluttered and ruined with ships and containers and crisscrossed with sharp perspective lines.

Iverson answered some questions via email regarding her body of work:

How did you get started as an artist? Was it always your goal to have a career as a painter?

Through high school and my first three years of college, I was encouraged by many of my teachers to pursue a career in art, but it took me a while to come to terms with it. I always had the aptitude for art, but I had this backward notion that if something came easily to me it wasn’t a valid pursuit as far as a major or a career choice. Eventually, I realized that ease did not negate validity and I embraced the life of an artist.

How do you go about creating your paintings? How do you come up with new ideas?

I get ideas for painting locations from environmental magazines, travel magazines and from my own travels. I subscribe to the Sierra Club magazine and Sunset magazine, and am often perusing the magazine racks at bookstores looking for locations and material.

What inspired your body of work that’s going on display in Sheehan?

The body of work at the Sheehan combines my interest in traditional landscape painting, my fascination with the shipping industry and my concerns for environmental preservation.

There seem to be environmentalist overtones in most of your paintings. Is there a message you’re trying to send through your art?

My work is an attempt to give a visual approximation of the effects of globalization and modern industry on the environment. Although we don’t store shipping containers in our national parks, and container ships may never find their way as far inland as the locations of my paintings, the work introduces a visual metaphor for the battle between human activity and the natural world.

Iverson will give a talk regarding her artwork in Olin Hall 130 on Oct. 19 at 5:30 p.m. There will be a reception in the Sheehan Gallery afterward.