Mary Claire Becker is a native of Raleigh, North Carolina. In 2012 she received her BFA from the University of North Carolina at Asheville with a concentration in Printmaking. She has spent time as an intern at Asheville Bookworks and as a studio assistant at Penland School of Crafts. She has shown nationally at galleries such as the New York Center for Book Arts, Blue Spiral 1 in Asheville, NC, Gallery 1010 in Knoxville, TN, Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati, OH, and the Black Box Gallery in Portland, OR.
Mary Claire is currently an MFA candidate in Printmaking at the University of Iowa and is also working towards a Certificate of Book Arts at the UI Center for the Book. As a graduate teaching assistant, she has acted as instructor of record for drawing and printmaking classes. In 2017 she attended an artist residency at Lake Okoboji’s Lakeside Laboratory, a biology research station in Western Iowa.
Decorative ornament merges with scientific illustration in my prints and sculptures. I explore the human impulse to collect, contain, and claim ownership of natural phenomena. Motifs used to furnish interior spaces are often stylized renditions of nature that present a tame interpretation of wilder landscapes. This trend in the decorative arts echoes a broader theme in our relationship to the natural world. From Victorian cabinets of curiosity to contemporary Instagram photos of wilderness vacations, the desire to preserve fleeting experiences of wild beauty is a common impulse in industrial societies. With cultural connotations such as authenticity, purity, and majesty, the ‘untouched wilderness’ of our collective consciousness provides respite from the rigidity of the built environment. A connection to nature offsets the stresses of the modern workplace, and in the case of nature-lovers and environmentalists, it mediates our guilt over participating in a society that uses natural resources unsustainably. However, by fetishizing the landscape, we exclude ourselves from any definition of nature and it becomes more difficult to design human systems that function effectively within our environment. My work encourages viewers to pay attention to our conflicting definitions of nature by exploring boundaries between decorative and wild.