Mary Engel has exhibited her found object assemblage sculpture of animal figures at Marcia Wood Gallery for sixteen years. To date, Engel's sculptures have been single figures gazing in a distinct direction, or implying an invitation to play, or to otherwise interact, with an implied other. With the new body of work, the implied other is present with the introduction of a multiple figures as a piece. Throughout her career Engel has employed a range of media, scale, surface and sculptural techniques in the depiction of a variety of animals, including her main figure, the dog, as well as cats, horses, rabbits and the occasional bear, squirrel or giraffe. From the beginning of her practice, Engel's foundation of inquiry has been an exploration of the development of culture through myth and fable, and as with so much of the lore she studies, she has designated the archetypical animal form as representatives of humanity.
Multiple forms apprising a single piece deepens the metaphoric possibilities for the investigation of the relationships between diverse cultures and belief systems, both the disparities and the similarities. As well, the visual impact and presence of the work shifts from the viewer relating to a single figure, to the viewer observing the relationship between figures. Further visual, emotional and psychological tension is created as Engel varies the scale of the relating figures. The new work is inspired most immediately by the artist's recent travels around the world, including India and Ireland, transpiring in the addition of elephants and jaguars to the artist's stable.
Originally from Chicago and currently living and working in Athens, GA, her work has shown and been reviewed extensively nationally since 1986. Engel's work is held in numerous important private collections, as well as institutions including Children’s Healthcare of Scottish Rite in Atlanta, The Arthur Blank Family Foundation, the Detroit Zoo, the Disney Corporation and the President’s Collection of the University of Georgia. Engel's work has also been presented and received with overwhelming response at numerous important international art fairs, including Pulse Miami, Art Chicago, and ART(212) NY. Museum exhibitions include Macon Museum of Arts & Sciences, Macon, GA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Atlanta, GA, Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville, AL, Asheville Museum of Art, Asheville, NC, and Fine Arts Museum of the South, Mobile, AL.