For Mary Van Cline, time is the riddle of human existence. It pushes one forward and leaves one behind. It exists beyond clocks, but humanity is constantly trying to measure it. Its boundaries can drive one to despair; its passage heal. For Van Cline, time has done both, and she has chronicled the changes through her work. From her earliest work to her latest installations, her sculptures depict man’s wish to find a way to another time plane.
Like good literature, Van Cline’s work is rich in symbols which work on many levels. Ladders, sundials, hourglasses, flasks, arrows, clocks, all showing movement for Van Cline, evoke broader meanings as well, such as escape, movement between levels, transformation over time and transcendence out of the moment. The figures in her photos span the ages in their anonymity, while the very process of photography stops time altogether.
But Van Cline’s work is more than narrative. It invites us to find our own balance within the piece, both visually and spiritually. The architectural aspects – a house shape, a window, a chair – give us a familiar point of departure. However, we are quickly asked to accept the work on a metaphysical rather than a literal level. The figures interact with one another but appear not to be in the same space. Some are active, some contemplative. Those in the photos sometimes seem on the point of discovery or caught in strange landscapes. The figures in neon float in space. Over all there is a sense of serenity, a sense of time for healing and wholeness.
Van Cline’s latest work continues to call for a participatory response from the viewer. The increasing spaciousness within her pieces invites one in, to stop, to rest, to contemplate. But more than that, they ask us to look for changes in ourselves, to get out of our box, to cross the lines of our imagination. They ask us to let go of preconception, and to be, for a little while, in another space where time does not just stand still – it does not exist at all.