Mary Weatherford's style combines abstract expressionism and color field painting into works that carefully study how natural light interacts with the environment. Weatherford often makes drawings on-site and later uses them as references for paintings in her studio. The artist's early work from the 1990s and early 2000s incorporated found objects such as starfish and seashells, which were adhered to the canvas, while her mature work regularly uses Flashe, a vinyl-based acrylic paint.
Mary Weatherford was born in 1963 in Ojai, California and raised in Los Angeles. In 1984, the artist received a BA in visual arts/art history from Princeton University. Weatherford was a Helena Rubinstein Fellow in the independent study program of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. Weatherford received an MFA from the Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College in 2006.
Weatherford' style is rooted in both abstract expressionism and color field painting. Roberta Smith wrote in The New York Times: “[This] combination bridges the gap between painters like Helen Frankenthaler and post-minimalists like Bruce Nauman and Keith Sonnier." In the 2016 book Vitamin P3: New Perspective in Painting, Rochelle Steiner wrote: “Weatherford characterizes her art as situational and experiential, based on her interest in capturing the sublime aspects within everyday moments and events that she finds rooted in urban encounters.”
The 2012 exhibition The Bakersfield Project at Todd Madigan Art Gallery, California State University Bakersfield was a breakthrough for Weatherford’s career. She was a visiting artist at the time when she found inspiration in the flickering neon signs of nearby motels and restaurants as she drove around the small town of Bakersfield. She then started installing long, slightly bent neon tubes—“like a drawn line”—through her large-scale paintings. She lets the electrical cords hang exposed as part of the composition, explaining: “If the wires ran behind the painting, you’d have a beer sign, not a painting. Nothing is hidden.” She added, “I’m done with a painting when there is something so compelling that I don’t want to lose it.”
In 2020, Weatherford’s first survey exhibition was presented at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. The artist has been in various group exhibitions, including: LA Invitational at Gagosian Gallery in New York City (2017); Between Two Worlds: Art of California at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, California (2017); The Forever Now: Painting in an Atemporal World at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City (2014); Selections from the Grunwald Center and the Hammer Contemporary Collection at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, California (2013). The artist's solo exhibitions include: I’ve Seen Gray Whales Go By at Gagosian in New York City (2018); like the land loves the sea at David Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles, California (2017); and Red Hook at Brennan & Griffin in New York City (2015).
Weatherford is represented by Gagosian Gallery and David Kordansky Gallery.
Weatherford lives and works in Los Angeles, California.