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Teen Summer Workshop Series
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The Mattress Factory is an artist-centered museum, international residency program and renowned producer and presenter of installation art. We say “yes” to artists, offering time and space to dream and realize projects in our hometown, Pittsburgh, PA. We invite audiences from around the world and around the corner to step inside, immerse and connect with the artistic process.

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Mary Jean Kenton

The Free Rectangles, 1973-1992


This play is a reflection on the (im)possibility of accepting diversity and the other. The fragmented body of the neoplasm—the fruit of unstable conditions—overcomes barriers, loves and denies itself and others, wanders around, forgetting its profession. It frequently and with pleasure divides, goes through dangerous palpation, questions the possibility of contact with the experience of the other. Poorly brought up but very successful, it invites us to a trans-species transition.

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The installation is one chapter in an ongoing project of the artist, begun in 1973. A series of paintings, some on the wall, and some on the floor, are placed and rearranged in different places. The rectangles are painted on a type of cardboard called Davey Board. There are many small rectangles. Each rectangle is dated when it is painted, and the artist changes the installation during the time it is in the space.

Artist Statement

I began this work in 1973 out of a desire to escape several restrictions intrinsic to painting on canvas. One was the fact that a canvas painting can absorb only so much labor before it becomes overworked. A point arrives at which the painting must either be spoiled or set aside as finished and at that point, the artist’s relationship to it changes. I wanted a painting that need never be completed—that could remain in progress for as long as I lived, developing over time and in response to the various locations at which it might appear.


Mary Jean Kenton: June 27, 1992 - January 31, 1993
About The Artist

Mary Jean Kenton was born in Fayette County, PA. She lives and works in Merrittstown, PA.

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