excerpt from SEEN magazine

“My art is often perceived as too pretty,” she says. “Especially when you consider my background and where I work. People expect my paintings to be urban or gritty and they are – one just has to dig deeper into their layers to find that.” This can be seen in her series # 34, which uses mapping data on the shootings and arson fires in the city. These actions are interrupted and are over-laid on a topographical surface. This union becomes an elegant expression that draws the viewer in only to be presented with some disturbing information. Rousseaux hopes to open a dialogue between the work and the viewer, and the viewer and the public. “It is through knowledge we are able to push for an awareness and change “.

Rousseaux paintings and works on paper are built up through layers of transparent materials embedded with mark-making using pencil, pen, ink and gold leaf. Her work conveys a layering and compression of time, space and place and is directly informed by the changing landscape of the city of Detroit. “There is constant movement in my work,” she says. “I push to explore the ideas of memory and how they weave together to create our reality. My work is a continuation of a series that spans several years of meditation on the duality of attraction and repulsion. Made by creating layers of material, forms move into and out of focus as they coalesce into a visual whole. Each layer is a complete statement. The result is that the work can be read as a complete narrative on a single surface, or can be read in and out as the narratives react to each other.”

Rousseaux came of age when the city’s counter culture was thriving. The Cass corridor was alive with music, the Willis Gallery was still active and the local club scene was breaking out. The art and music of the late 70s early 80s informed her adolescence and became part of the fiber that has bound her to the city. “The art and music scene in Detroit in the late 70s and early 80s was amazing,” she says. “I was going to clubs like Bookies when I was 15. Dancing at Menjos and eating early morning donuts at Quickie. I studied at Wayne State earning my Bachelors degree and got a job running a gallery in Birmingham. After I had a daughter, I stayed home with her until she was nine. Then, I went back and got my Master’s and started teaching and developing a very active studio practice”

To this day, Rousseaux stays involved at Wayne State running the Professional Print Workshop, a studio dedicated to the continued study of traditional print and the development of an active print community.  She also teaches part time at Eastern Michigan University. “Teaching is funny,” she says. “The kids are so young and they keep my mind active and fresh. It is so much fun to be challenged by people half my age. They are naïve in their expression and it’s always super honest and engaging.”

Rousseaux is an active member of the local arts community and has exhibited in the city area for over decade. Her work can be found in many private collections both nationally and internationally as well as publically at places like the Greentown Casino and the Cosmopolitan Casino in Las Vegas. Additionally, her work has been included in publications such as Architectural Digest and Traditional Home and most recently has been featured in the Fox series Empire.

The creative community in the city is so strong because we are all willing to talk about our work with each other and share techniques and resources,” Rousseaux says. “That’s what makes this a great place for creativity. I have works by local artists Robert Sestock, Kristin Beaver and Ed Meese displayed in my own home. We are all about collaboration”


Click to View Available Artwork by Mary Rousseaux