Mary Fassett

Mary and her father, Truman Fassett

Mary Fassett's art is rooted in New England and especially Cape Cod. These lands have informed her landscapes and portraits since youth. Born in 1915 in Boston, Fassett learned how to paint from her father, Truman Fassett, portrait painter in Boston and in New York, listed in the Who Was Who in American Art, as exhibiting from 1911 until 1935. World War I interrupted his art studies in Paris, he then returned to the United States to study at the Boston Museum School. Thus Mary and her father have created art in New England for two generations.

Aside from her family context, Mary Fassett is largely a self-taught painter, although she had a valuable mentor in Theodore Mueller (son of a famous woodcut artist, Hans Mueller) who taught at the Out of Door School in Sarasota, Florida. This was an exceptional progressive school founded by Fanneal Harrison, attended by Mary and her sister and some of her cousins. Her painting technique was already developed before she went to Sarah Lawrence College where she took a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1935. There she had one course in painting with Peppino Mangravite.

Throughout life, despite many moves and changes, Fassett has industriously developed her individual vision, creating a variety and volume of paintings, etchings, drawings, life size sculpture, ceramics, illustrated books, translations from French poetry, all without the encouragement of public recognition. She is an artist of stern integrity and she admits- "sometimes this meticulous way of working seems too fussy." The Modernist break with the traditional Academy did not influence her style which was rooted in the painting techniques of the old masters.Her sensitive paintings reflect careful observation and attention to detail. Her interest in literary narrative is expressed in vaguely symbolic paintings and in her illustrated handmade books. She illustrated and printed, The Book of Job, The Book of Ecclesiastes and The Whiteface Ballet Mime. Currently, she is working on a book titled, Quiet Eye, which consists of images reproduced on Japanese paper by means of computer and copier.

Fassett has been working for seventy years and she continues to work today at the age of eighty-six and in good health. In an artist statement dated October 18, 2001, she said, "Today I am still ruled by the decision I made many years ago. This was the commitment to a truthful integrity of vision." It is the combination of this commitment with her deep literary interest that makes her work compelling. In the fragmented post-modern art period Fassett offers the voice of reason with informed vision.

Jennifer Moller December 2001