The Free Rectangles, 1973-1992 1992

Mary Jean Kenton
Mary Jean Kenton: June 27, 1992 – January 31, 1993
cardboard, paint

Thousands of pieces of a type of cardboard called Davey Board have been carefully placed on the floor and mounted on the walls throughout the room.


The installation is one chapter in an ongoing project of the artist, begun in 1973. A series of paintings, some on the wall, 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 a 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.

About the Artist

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