Artist Statement    

“As an abstract figurative painter, I relate the modes and attributes of light and color to a geometric structure. Themes are drawn from the changing landscapes of nature and interiors, or from memories and man’s archtypal experiences. Historical influences began with love of the Italian primitives. Later, concepts grew from studies of Cezanne, Klee, the Cubists and Bonnard. They were mentors in developing an understanding of the contemporary art world.”

                                                                               Mary Buckley 


More than most artists who began their careers in the 1940s and ’50s, Mary Buckley grasped the possibilities latent in the new theories of perception and design, first taught at the Bauhaus, which she absorbed in painting studies at the Brooklyn Museum School.  While many others were content to experiment with optical effects, she has orchestrated color, the chief building block of her compositions, to create symphonies to the joy she found in nature, in human interaction and in the search for God. She was always able to synthesize intellect with intuition and feeling; references to post-impressionism and cubism are woven in seamlessly, enriching the experience of her work. During the 1990s, she was recognized in solo shows at the Prince Street Gallery, New York City; Hutchins Gallery, C. W. Post College, Brookville, NY; the President's Gallery, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY; and the Smithy-Pioneer Gallery in Cooperstown, NY.  At the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, she exhibited in the cathedral art gallery and completed a permanent installation of 62 paintings entitled Celebrating the Life of St. Columba in the St. Columba Chapel.  The St. Columba project took months of research and was four years in the making.  In the year 2000, her work was exhibited at the Coffey Gallery in Kingston, NY and a retrospective was held at the Cooperstown Art Association in 2001.

The Yager Museum at Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY organized a major exhibit of her paintings in 2004.  Her painting and sculptures are included in the collections of Yale University Art Gallery, The Heckscher Museum, Pratt Institute, The Albany Art Institute, The New York State Historical Association, the New Britain Museum of Art, New Britain, CT,  and the New York state Legislature Building, as well as numerous private collections.

Beyond the canvas, Mary Buckley applied her design and color acumen to large-scale public sculptures and commissions. People II, a permanent outdoor sculpture for the grounds of the New York State capital, and the New York State standards, were both commissioned by the New York State Legislature in 1971. This project followed People I, created for the Paragon Corporation in Melville, NY and Tennis Players for Deer Park High School in Deer Park, NY.

Following theories inherent in 20th Century art and design, Buckley was convinced that people's lives could be improved by their environment.  She  served as color consultant in the late 50's and early 60's to architect Philip Johnson, and in the 80's to the furniture manufacturer, Herman Miller, Inc.  She co-founded and directed the Margaret Gate Institute, a non-profit organization active from 1973 through the mid 1980's, which involved Pratt students in designing environments of color, light and visual warmth for patients in psychiatric centers and hospitals.

In her thirty-seven years as a professor of art and design at Pratt Institute, Mary Buckley served for many years as a coordinator of the Foundation Art program, developing the basic course in Light, Color and Design for freshmen in 1960, followed by color concepts courses for upperclassmen, a color course for the graduate industrial design program, and an experimental color course in the School of Architecture. She was honored as a Distinguished Professor at Pratt Institute in 1992. In 1975, she authored Color Theory, published by Gale Research Company. Her articles on color have appeared in Time and Life magazines, and she was a contributing editor on color to the Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques.

Among her many awards and honors, Mary Buckley was a fellow of the MacDowell Colony and the Royal Society of Art (U. K.).  She was the recipient of an American Psychiatric Association Citation for her work with the Margaret Gate Institute and the American Society of Interior Designers Gold Medal Award for her Textile Designs for the office furniture manufacturer, Herman Miller.

Mary Buckley’s accomplishments in the fields of art, design and education reveal her to be an extraordinary interpreter of American modernism.