MARY CATHERINE NEWCOMB
Project of Eden/Owen Sound 2014
Mary Catherine Newcomb’s Product of Eden Project started as an experiment in 2006 to examine specific themes such as the human predilection to anthropomorphize natural forces, narrative, memory, and mortality. Newcomb’s work has always revolved around the figure and fosters a powerful relationship to narrative/mythology. This initial project involved making clay figures that roughly corresponded to the expected shapes of the fruits or vegetables of the plants she worked with. She then worked through a variety of steps to produce clear polycarbonate moulds of the figures that were fastened over the growing fruits and vegetables. Newcomb initially worked with varieties of eggplants, hot peppers and then moved into growing and shaping squash. In 2010 at the Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery, Newcomb raised a crop of several jumbo pink banana squash plants in which she grew in life-sized baby casted resin moulds. That’s right, squash babies. The baby garden provided several life-sized jumbo pink banana squash babies.
This 2014 project entitled “Project of Eden/Owen Sound” is a smaller version of the Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery squash baby project. This idea grew out of Newcomb’s image-based work, her increasing interest in agriculture and fascination in the development of narrative/mythologies. Newcomb’s experience making moulds and casting other materials has led to her development of growing vegetables into sculpted moulds. She compares her love of working with this plastic media to her love of drawing – it records that immediate gesture in a sculptural manner. Newcomb believes that every medium has a different language – “You have to make friends with it, learn its grammar to work with it and see what it says.”
Mary Catherine Newcomb has worked as a sculptor for over 20 years. Her work has been exhibited in Canada and internationally, extensively reviewed, and she has received support from the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Waterloo Regional Arts Fund. In 2009, Newcomb was awarded the K.M. Hunter Prize for visual art. Newcomb’s work is regularly shown at Loop Gallery in Toronto and throughout her career she has completed several public commissions. She currently resides in Southern Ontario where she teaches at Sheridan College.