Mary Ellen Bartley

Mary Ellen Bartley

Born: 1959, New York, NY

Biography and Information

Mary Ellen Bartley uses books to create abstract compositions in her photographs. Her recent series Reading in Color consists of colorful arrangements made from the dyed edges of mass market paperbacks. Untethered from their titles and the stories within, these still-life compositions transform the books into colorful abstractions. For this most recent body of work, Bartley found her materials from the Strand, New York City’s beloved independent bookstore.

Her work has been exhibited in numerous institutions including Queens Museum, NY; Walker Art Center, MN; Houston Center for Photography; Drawing Room, NY; Parrish Art Museum, NY; and the Watermill Center, NY. Bartley’s work is in numerous collections, including Guild Hall Museum, NY; Parrish Art Museum, NY; Walker Art Center, MN; the Watermill Collection, NY. Bartley received her BFA from Purchase College, SUNY, and she lives and works in Sag Harbor, NY.

There’s a connection between mid-century publishing and modernism that I feel intrinsically as I work with the books. The worn, nearly decayed textures and tightly packed page ends held what is known as “pulp,” a word describing both content and material. By focusing on the single design element of dyed page-edges to the exclusion of anything else, there’s a tension in the concealed themes and untethered narratives of these books. An additional layer of interest is hidden in the segments of color stacked against each other in compositions that quietly oscillate between abstraction, sculptural assemblage, and color studies. —Mary Ellen Bartley

BFA, Purchase College, SUNY, Harrison, New York

Selected Exhibitions
Reading in Color, Yancey Richardson Gallery, NY (solo)
What is an Edition Anyway?, McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco, CA
Parrish Perspectives, Recent Acquisitions in Context, Parrish Art Museum, Watermill, NY
Recess, Page Bond Gallery, Richmond, VA

Interventions, Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York
Spirit of Place, The Drawing Room, East Hampton, NY
Picture: Books, Greensboro Project Space, Greensboro, NC

La Mère, La Mer, McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco, CA
Mary Ellen Bartley: Reading Grey Gardens, The Drawing Room, East Hampton, NY (solo)
Library Copies, Studio 5, The Queens Museum, New York (solo installation)
Deception, Filter Space, Chicago, Illinois
Art of the Book, Seager/ Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, CA
Spring Installation, The Drawing Room, East Hampton, NY
View Find 6, Page Bond Gallery, Richmond, Virginia

Ordinary Pictures, The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
Lux: The Radiant Sea, Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York
Mary Ellen Bartley: Looking Between the Covers, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose, CA (solo)
Mary Ellen Bartley: Still Books, Anzenberger Gallery, Vienna, Austria (solo)
The Tactile Eye, Project Space, Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, NY (solo)
The Lives of Books, Dina Mitrani Gallery, Miami, Florida
Water/ Bodies, Southampton Arts Center, Southampton, NY, curator: Eric Fischl
A Field Guide to Nowhere, Brock University, Ontario, Canada
Discoveries of the Meeting Place, Fotofest International Biennial 2016, Houston, TX

Mary Ellen Bartley: Reading Robert Wilson, The Watermill Center, Watermill, NY (solo)
Winter Salon, The Drawing Room Gallery, East Hampton, NY
Off Print Paris, École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France
Cielo Perro Lobo, National Museum of Archeology and Ethnology, Guatemala City, Guatemala
Burning with Desire, Curious Duke Gallery, London, UK
Fotobookfestival Kassel, Book Dummy Awards 2015, Shortlisted Books Exhibition, Kassel, Germany the exhibition travels to: Fotoleggendo, Rome, IED, Madrid, PhotoIreland, Dublin, Kaunas Photo, Kaunas, Fotobok Festival, Oslo, Encontros da Imagem, Braga, Book Fair, Goteborg and Fotoistanbul, Istanbul.

Mary Ellen Bartley: Leaning Above the Page, Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, NY (solo)

Mary Ellen Bartley: Paperbacks, Yancey Richardson, New York, NY (solo)

The Thing Itself, Yancey Richardson, New York, NY

Well Read: Visual Explorations of the Book, Photo Center NW, Seattle, WA

John Alexander, Antonio Asis, Jennifer Bartlett, Mary Ellen Bartley, Chuck Holtzman, Mel Kendrik, Dan Rizzie, and Alan Shields, The Drawing Room, East Hampton, NY

Book Ends, Cara Barer and Mary Ellen Bartley, Center for Photographic Art, Carmel, CA

Paris Photo 2014, Yancey Richardson Gallery, Paris, France

White Columns Benefit Exhibition 2014, New York, NY

How One Thing Leads to Another, Critical Mass 2013, curated by Jessica Johnston, Corden Potts Gallery, San Francisco,CA, Houston Center for Photography, Houston, Texas.

The Armory Show 2014, Pier 94, Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, NY

Paris Photo 2013, Yancey Richardson Gallery, Paris, France

Gallery Artists: Aycock, Antonakos, Bartley, Heatley, Nivola, Ross, The Drawing Room, East Hampton, NY

The Optical, Blue Sky Gallery, Portland , OR, curator: Allan Chasanoff

Blue Books, photographs by Mary Ellen Bartley, Graficas Gallery, Nantucket, MA (solo)

A Whiter Shade of Pale, Kenise Barnes Fine Art, Larchmont, NY

Geografica, Fototropia Gallery, Guatemala City, Guatemala

Color and Light, Critical Mass 2012, Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona Beach, FL, curator: W. M. Hunt

New Work, The Drawing Room, East Hampton, NY

Joyce Elaine Grant Exhibition 2013, Texas Women’s University, Denton, TX juror: Sarah Kennel

Spaces,The International Photography Awards + MOPLA, The Loft at Liz’s, Los Angeles, CA

Beautiful My Desire, Wallspace Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA curator: Anne Jastrab

Mary Ellen Bartley, Photographs, The Drawing Room, East Hampton, NY (solo)

Mary Ellen Bartley, Standing Open, Davis Orton Gallery, Hudson, NY (solo)

Out of Print, Bakersfield Art Museum, Bakersfield, CA

Anthology, Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona Beach. FL

Equivalents, Photo Center NW, Seattle, WA, curator: W.M. Hunt

Exposure 2012, Photographic Resource Center, Boston, MA, curator: Alison Nordstrom

Group Therapy, Harper’s Books, East Hampton, NY

Lust, Jennifer Schwartz Gallery, Atlanta, GA

Summer Solstice, Kenise Barnes Fine Art, Larchmont, NY

Contents, Critical Mass 2011, PCNW, Seattle, WA, Newspace, Portland, OR, and Rayko Gallery,San Francisco, CA, curator: Darius Himes

Portfolio, Corden Potts Gallery, San Francisco, CA

Mary Ellen Bartley, Books, Corden Potts Gallery, San Francisco, CA (solo)

Artists Choose Artists, Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY, chosen by Ross Bleckner

Houston Center for Photography, Annual Juried Show, Houston, TX, juror: Ariel Shanberg

Memento, Kenise Barnes Fine Art, Larchmont, NY

Portfolio 2, Corden Potts Gallery, San Francisco, CA

Reader’s Delight, McKenzie Fine Art, New York, NY

Excentrica, Longhouse, East Hampton, NY

It’s Still Life,Rayko Gallery, San Francisco, CA

Photo-Op, Photographic Center Northwest, Seattle, WA 2009, juror: Jen Bekman

Invitational, Islip Museum, Islip, NY

Mood Swings, Solar Gallery, East Hampton, NY

Guild Hall Art Museum, East Hampton, NY

McEvoy Family Collection, San Francisco, CA

Parrish Art Museum, Watermill, NY

The Watermill Collection, Watermill, NY

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Pollock Krasner House and Study Center, Visiting Artist, Springs, NY

Queens Museum, Reanimation Library, Visiting Artist, Queens, NY

Visual Studies Workshop, Project Room Artist in Residence, Rochester, NY

Watermill Center, Artist in Residence, Watermill, NY

Fotobook Festival Kassel, 2015 Book Dummy Award, Reading Robert Wilson shortlisted.

Photolucida Critical Mass 2013 Top 50 Photographers

Photolucida Critical Mass 2012 Top 50 Photographers

A First Place Lucie International Photo Award for Artists and Models series

Photolucida Critical Mass 2011 Top 50 Photographers

‘la mère la mer’ exhibition catalog, McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco, CA,

Ordinary Pictures, exhibition catalog, Walker Art Center
Pavel Banka, Fotograf, #29 contemplation, “Mary Ellen Bartley, Between the Spiritual and the Abstract”, volume 16, Prague, CZ
Mary Ellen Bartley, twelve page insert in Afterimage, The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism, Volume 44 Nos 1&2, The Tactile Eye, Summer

Reading Robert Wilson, hand-bound artist book

Interview with Ross Bleckner, Mary Ellen Bartley: Leaning Above the Page, Guild Hall Museum exhibition catalogue

Nagasaki Shaw and Summer Hung, 20 Now: Contemporary Photographers
Standing Open, Unless You Will, Issue 17
Artists and Models, Fraction Magazine, Issue 36

Press Release
2020 Vision at Richard Levy Gallery