Black Abstract Mary Ann Aitken 1983-2011
June 5-July 10, 2013

Black Abstract Mary Ann Aitken 1983-2011 is an exhibition in two parts, presenting distinct chapters in the career of artist Mary Ann Aitken (b. Detroit, 1960 - d. New York, 2012). For more than three decades, Aitken was a voracious artist whose output of painting, works on paper, and mixed media collage was matched by a sense of intention that cut across her varied subjects. Although Aitken studied and worked among the recognized artists of the Cass Corridor, her own art has yet to be celebrated. This retrospective exhibition showcases two significant periods in her life’s work: 1983-1989 at the gallery What Pipeline in southwest Detroit, and 2007-2011 at Trinosophes.

Aitken’s touch was not light. In the 1980s, she was a mark-maker who depicted her environment with a heavy palette. Thick layers of paint consumed whatever disposable material she could get her hands on, including linoleum tile, newsprint, cardboard, and used paper. Her rough, unmediated impressions of unconsidered objects and mundane street scenes reaffirm their existence.

In 1989, Aitken relocated to Brooklyn where she worked as an art therapist. Her work from 2007-2011, the late period of her life, represents a shift toward impenetrable abstraction. Rocks, twine, tar, soot, shells, and other debris are buried deep in ragged canvas; the treasures she found were hardened into dark, ossified form. This exhibition also features multiples of her photographic documentation of sublime gardens and beach scenes from the family cottage in Amherstburg, Ontario.

Black Abstract Mary Ann Aitken 1983-2011 has been realized with the help of Aitken’s family, and her life-long friend Ed Fraga. Photos by Tim Thayer.

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