Mary Becker


Becker’s Finding True North assemblages are inspired by the “Sailors’ Valentines” of the 1830s to early 1900s. An elaborate, symmetrical mosaic crafted from seashells, sailors often purchased them from the tourist trade in Barbados (also their last port of call) or constructed their own to possess secret letters of love or their special daguerreotypes. Constructed using antique holy water fonts from 1800 Germany and antique handmade lace and embroidered appliques, Becker’s sailor’s valentines are joyful expressions of survival and getting on with what lies ahead. Holy water is healing and purifying and pervades every religion and most cultures. For Becker, this is a symbolic connection as the entire world religiously washed its hands for the last year and a half.

Tiny assemblage figurines, coming up for air after a long year of plague, grace Becker’s sailor’s valentines. Assembled from antique doll parts, vintage trims, and seashells, Becker sees them as sea gods lending a helping hand as we all make way for the surface. Becker’s Eastern-flavored sailor’s valentine is lined with a glorious sari border. Its angel holy font is adorned with blue skirts and an angel’s nimbus made from sari scrap and jar lid liner. Unapologetically lush, tactile, and many-layered, Becker uses antique and vintage textiles, jewelry, china, Milagros, bits, pieces, and magpie collections from many cultures in her assemblages. Fragments of handwork from weavers, lace makers, jewelers, painters, quilters, and embroiderers layer her artwork, and her pleasure in touching and editing their artwork into her own brings together a sense of the generations of artists before who made beautiful things.

In addition to her assemblage sculpture, Becker's upcoming exhibition will also feature eight giclée prints from her series Botanical Buddhas and three 24” X 18” detailed collages titled “There’s a Hole in Heaven”. This triptych depicts a world in which good is leaving and evil is entering. The Egyptian Sky Goddess protects the self-involved people enchanted with themselves, ignoring the hole in heaven. Created throughout 2020, the artwork in the exhibition considers the many phases of Covid. From quarantining and social distancing while attempting to help others to being afraid and mourning the dead while resuming a form of normal life, Becker finds sanity in her ability to make art. It is her True North, her calling. Her artwork is the needle that points her in the direction. A combination of all her values, all her beliefs, all her purpose. What is your True North?

Becker is a designer and mixed media artist with a focus on assemblage. Becker's artistic process begins with an inspiring image or theme and then moves into the serious and wonderful work of moving that imaginative spark into the material world. As a professional designer for Disney, Jim Henson, Hasbro, Charles Shultz, Wicked Cool Toys, and Alchemy II, Becker was a product designer for talking toys, walk-around costume characters, and children audiobook productions. Line extensions for Intellectual Properties included Mickey Mouse, The Muppets, Talking Mother Goose, Snoopy, and Teddy Ruxpin. She was seminal to the creation of Teddy Ruxpin and served as president of Alchemy II for 11 years. Additionally, she has designed kits for Bucilla and Paragon Embroidery Companies. Her ecclesiastical embroideries, created for ministers and churches, were featured in Fiber Arts Magazine. She has taught workshops in soft sculpture and fiber art throughout Southern California and Alaska. Currently, Becker is an artist with Los Angeles Experimental Artists (LAEA) and teaches mixed media workshops.

portfolio.jpg Mary Becker's Upcoming BoxHeart Exhibition, Finding True North, is September 15th - October 15th, 2021.