Mary Smull is an artist, writer, and curator living in Philadelphia, PA. She merges object and action in a practice centered around conceptual and textile processes to expose the diversity of attitudes toward labor and the complex relationship between art history and domestic craft.
Using established methods of Conceptual art – rule-based making, appropriation, exquisite corpse – and social practice, her work addresses unconscious biases we hold, both as makers and non-makers, about the way we value our time and the time of “experts” versus the time of “hobbyists”. In the Finished Works series, Smull buys unfinished needlepoint projects on eBay and finishes them – but using only white yarn. The works are structurally complete, while maintaining a visual record of the original maker’s contribution. To accompany the series, Smull founded the Society for the Prevention of Unfinished Needlepoint, inviting anyone to join her in the mission to “eliminate the phenomenon of unfinished needlepoint”.
Smull has been a member of the Philadelphia collective Grizzly Grizzly since 2010. Grizzly Grizzly's ongoing mission is to blur organizational lines, promote community, and –above all– take risks. All Grizzly members are practicing artists who also curate exhibitions, performances and alternative programming, creating a meeting-ground for dialog and a space for innovative work without the constraints of institutional agendas or commercial interests. Since 2010, Smull has curated several exhibitions at Grizzly Grizzly, including Threaded Interface: Annica Cuppetelli and Cristobal Mendoza, and Concatenation: Olivia Robinson, with Cindy Stockton-Moore. In 2012, she was a key member of a team creating Philadelphia’s first Community Supported Art program, which creates a new avenue for artistic production and collector support based on the model of an agricultural farmshare.
Recently, Smull’s work has been exhibited regionally at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia International Airport, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Temple Contemporary, Philadelphia, PA, and Bridgette Mayer Gallery, and nationally at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Public Fiction Gallery in Los Angeles, CA, Cranbrook Museum of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Racine Art Museum in Racine, WI, and the Craft Alliance, in St. Louis, MO. Internationally, she has shown at the Korea National University of the Arts in Seoul, South Korea and Anna Leonowens Gallery in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Smull holds a BFA from the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI, and teaches in the Fiber Department at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD.