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June 13, 2019
Mary Alayne Thomas: New Works: The Wood between Worlds

In her newest series of paintings, Mary Alayne Thomas explores the themes of solidarity and unity between humanity and nature—or as she calls it “the oneness of all life.” The series is titled The Wood Between Worlds after the mysterious pond- filled forest in the sixth Chronicles of Narnia book, The Magician’s Nephew. “In the book, the Wood between the Worlds is a forest full of small ponds that transport one into various worlds,” she elaborates. “The wood itself is separate, a quiet place apart from the turmoil, the laws and structures that exist in the different realities. I envision a forest where creatures of all kind cross from one world to another and sometimes meet, becoming companions in their journey. It’s a place of peace.” That idea of peace is carried throughout Thomas’ paintings as she shows the animals and their companions in harmony. Sometimes the companion is a different animal, while at other times she pairs a human with the creatures. For the former compositions, she shows how animals can complement one another, while the works with humans tend to highlight the precarious nature of our relationships with wildlife. “For example,” she says, “it is not uncommon to perceive tigers as ferocious and violent. In my paintings, I instead try to capture a serenity and feline playfulness. Often, the tiger seems charmed by the quietness of a garden or the gentleness of another creature. Playing with our preconceived notions creates a larger story.” In June, this series will be on view at Lotton Gallery in Chicago. Included is her painting Forest Panoply, which depicts a woman holding a mink surrounded by butterflies and birds. Elaborating on the painting, Thomas shares, “One quiet morning, when sitting along- side a stream in the Olympic National Forest, I noticed an animal scurrying across the river bank. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a small, silky mink fishing in the freezing stream. For almost an hour, we shared this space, as I watched him pull one sh after another out of the water, storing them all in a small shelter behind him. As butterflies (and bats!) drifted by, the dreamy landscape tricked me into thinking I was just another mink, a visitor in this small creature’s world.”

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  • June 13, 2019

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