Mary Lang: Small Moments of Sad-Joy

December 9, 2020 - January 17, 2021
Artist Reception: (following socially distanced guidelines) Friday, January 8, 2021
Kingston Conversation: December 16, 2020, 7:00-8:00 pm EST - Featuring Mary Lang with Rachel Lafo.

  • Mary Lang

    Summer solstice, Melrose Street, Auburndale, 2018, archival digital print, 10.5 x 15.5 inches.

    Summer solstice
  • Mary Lang

    Sprinkler, backyard, Auburndale, 2018, archival digital print, 11 x 15.5 inches.

    Sprinkler
  • Mary Lang

    October morning, Karmê Chӧling, Barnet, VT, 2019, archival digital print, 15 x 22.5 inches.

    October morning
  • Mary Lang

    Memorial Day weekend, Accord, NY, 2019, archival digital print, 10.5 x 15.5 inches.

    Memorial Day
  • Mary Lang

    Garden hose and deck, Ryegate, VT, July, 2019, archival digital print, 10.5 x 15.5 inches.

    Garden hose and deck
  • Mary Lang

    Parking lot at dawn, Karmê Chӧling, Barnet, VT, 2019, archival digital print, 10.5 x 15.5 inches.

    Parking lot at dawn
  • Mary Lang

    Summer twilight, Auburndale, MA, 2020, archival digital print, 10.5 x 15.5 inches.

    Summer twilight
  • Mary Lang

    Queen Anne's lace, parking lot, early evening, Auburndale, MA, 2020, archival digital print, 15 x 22.5 inches.

    Queen Anne's lace
  • Mary Lang

    Early morning, from the screened porch, Auburndale, 2017, archival digital print, 15 x 22.5 inches.

    Early morning, from the screened porch

Artist Page
Press Release

Artist Statement

I recently became aware of a Japanese phrase – Mono No Aware – which is their term for the awareness of impermanence. According to Wikipedia, it means, literally, the pathos of things, also translated as an empathy toward things, or a sensitivity to ephemera. I thought to myself, "How did I not know of this phrase all these years?" It says it so well. Wikipedia goes on to use many more words to express this simple awareness: The transience of things, and a gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing, as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life.

I also have used many words to express something similarly ineffable. In my previous artist statements I've called it groundlessness, or "the open-hearted sadness of direct perception, the feeling of liminal presence, an intimacy…", or "the contemplative inner space of a quiet ordinary moment, the space between the in breath and the out breath, a gap full of loneliness and possibility". Chӧgyam Trungpa coined the word sad-joy for this fullness of heart, in touch with the suffering and impermanence of the world, experienced as the joy of being awake and alive to feel it completely.

These photographs are not particularly grand, or vast. No traveling to distant landscapes or seascapes this year. Many are from my yard, or on my street, or just around the block, or from friends' yards in upstate New York or Vermont. A few are from Karmê Chӧling, the retreat center in Vermont whose fields and pond will be familiar to followers of my work, seen again and again, season after season, year after year.

A hose draped over a railing, a doll carriage left alone, lit windows at twilight, the arc of a sprinkler, Queen Anne's Lace at dusk…… Can these images make one stop for a moment, notice, and feel the pathos of things?

Awareness of the transience of all things heightens appreciation of their beauty, and evokes a gentle sadness at their passing.

Small moments of sad-joy.



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