I have been a collector of personal ephemera all my life. It has been a way for me to hold dearly onto the idea of wanting permanence. I grew up in an immigrant family, and my parents were part of the diaspora of WW2 immigrants wanting a new life and start outside of their homeland. They arrived in the U.S. with very little belongings, so snippets of letters, documents, and personal papers meant the world to them — and me. Growing up a dual citizen meant one foot in the States, and the other foot overseas. Home was always, “over there.”

For me rearranging the parts and pieces of ephemera into layered multimedia compositions of chance words, poems, personal objects, and photographs continues to help me explore tensions between deconstruction and reconstruction, and the repurposing of something old into something new. It is the reorganization of these materials into lines, grids and geometry which has sustained me as an artist and designer all these years.

My MFA was a deeper exploration into my personal making process and looking closely at the concepts of displacement, duality and identity. It was about ‘holding on and letting go.” Part of my study was looking closely at painter Agnes Martin’s soft lines and grids, and the questions around the subject of ‘what remains?’ I also learned from the highly detailed and organized drawings of Sol LeWitt, which were a huge influence on my work.

Mary Hanrahan has over twenty years' experience in design with a strong love of organization and project management in both professional and higher educational environments. Her BFA from The University of New Mexico is in printmaking and photography. She studied at Tamarind Institute of Lithography as a technical assistant. She currently lives and works in Taos, New Mexico with her partner, but travels to Ireland often for creative inspiration — her second home. She also returns each April and October to Vermont College of Fine Arts to assistant graduate students with their exhibition installation during the 10-day graphic design residencies. She received her MFA from VCFA in 2013.

In August 2019, she spent 26 days at the Burren College of Art on the west coast of Ireland working on an ecology and found art project. The project was an exploration with encaustics, and collected tea bags that held flora, fauna and found material from the landscape and surrounding area — basically "tiny-tea-bag" encaustics. The project was entitled, "26 Days in the Burren." A process and documentation book about the project will be published in the Fall of 2020. It was in the Burren that her work changed direction to focus on art in the environment and ecology, and as the Irish say, "to get your eye in closer to things." One ephiphany she had while observing a wayfinding exercise in the Burren National Park with fellow students was the realization she said, "That within the ancient limestone rockscape this was the first time I recongnized myself in any landscape." She plans to return again to the west coast, County Clare in 2020 to continue her research and studies, with tea bags and found flora and fauna and a handfull of watercolor pencils. Her work in Ireland will be forever inspired by the Irish poets, John O'Donohue and Seamus Heaney, who famously said, "Walk on air against your better judgement."