I create conditions/experiments that I then follow with great curiosity. This appears to involve “listening” and following the thread of what is observed. Materials I tend to experiment with include plaster, burlap, pigment, casein paint, and encaustic. Light, shadow, texture and relief, and the primacy of gravity all continue to capture my attention. Increasingly, I want my work to sit still.
George Mason has a background in ceramic architectural tile, and his work is steeped in the exploration of materials and history. Richly textured and saturated with color, the largest of his “relief tapestries” are pieced-together panels that occupy entire walls. Mason began to combine encaustics with layered paper cutouts while teaching in Jerusalem, Indonesia, and India.
Eventually, these works led to a multi-faceted question that challenged the artist to synthesize several divergent interests. He asked, “Is it possible to create large dimensional works, outside the frame, highly textural, referencing textile, ceramic, and cutout traditions, that hang with authority yet surrender to gravity with grace?”
He is currently finding out, and living on the midcoast with his family. A recipient of three National Endowment for the Arts awards and a founder of Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts, Mason has taught at Cranbrook Academy of Art, the College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Ohio State, U.C. Boulder, and Haystack.
In his home state of Maine, he has shown at the Portland Museum of Art and the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, and he has had solo shows at the Farnsworth Art Museum and the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. Mason completed 30-plus Percent For Art architectural ceramic projects for schools in Maine and New York City between 1986 and 2003, including a commission for the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta, Georgia.
“The pieces have a sensitive muscularity, an adamant physical presence that is palpable but not overwhelming. These things are unquestionably large and physical, but not demanding. You bring your own attention to them to see what’s there because they quietly exist, not because they shout.” –Ken Greenleaf, Portland Phoenix