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Searched-for objects adorn Engels animal sculptures
1211Engel2
For The Times

Sculptures by Mary Engel

When: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturdays through Jan. 3
Where: Marcia Wood Gallery, 263 Walker St., Atlanta
More info: 404-827-0030

If sculptures are art in three-dimensional form, then Mary Engel’s pieces add a fourth dimension to that.

Her bronze and mixed media dogs, cats, horses and even people are much more than the shapes they represent. Rather, they come covered in found objects the Athens-based artist has come across in her travels around the world, or even right here in Northeast Georgia.

So instead of simply patting a dog, you can run your fingers over intricate buttons, vintage plastic forms and pocket watches.

Engel’s work is on display through Jan. 3 at Marcia Wood Gallery in Atlanta. Gallery owner Marcia Wood said Engel has shown her work there "more times than I can count," and added that every time, the show is a crowd pleaser.

"Absolutely, over-the-top, consistently, across the board," Wood said. "From connoisseurs of contemporary, edgy artwork to people who are new to the work and new to contemporary art, there’s just so many layers of concept and craft and conversation to respond to that absolutely everybody sees the value and importance of the work."

This show also includes newer two-dimensional pieces Engel is making out of clay covered in decals.

Engel said her mixed-media pieces sometimes start with the form of the animal, while others begin when she stumbles upon that perfect decorative piece.

"I am always searching. I go to flea markets and junk stores, and I travel quite a bit. And when I’m in Italy or whatever I’ll find charms or watches or anything unusual, and I enjoy mixing them in with common items more recently found.

"They’re searched-for objects, really."

But Engel’s sculptures aren’t just the pieces covered in fun plastic birds or semi-precious stones. She also makes bronze sculptures using the ancient art of lost-wax casting.

The process involves first making a piece covered in interesting metal objects, Engel said. "I make sure they have really beautiful texture and shape and nice lines."

The method gets its name from the use of wax in the mold-making process, used to transfer the original, negative-space rubber mold initially made of the piece to a harder mold used in the bronzing process.

The wax in the process becomes "An exact three-dimensional duplicate of the structure," she added.

"It’s a really old process, and then you can use different patinas and they can be outdoors. I’m pretty excited about those pieces."

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