University Museums

Title: 21 Iris
Name: Painting
Date: 2000
Medium: Oil on canvas
Classification: Paintings
Credit Line: Gift of Barbra and Robert Eddy. In the Permanent Collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Location: Iowa State University, Knoll
Object Number: U2001.243
More Information
Mary Kline-Misol studied art at Drake University and currently practices art in Des Moines. Her paintings focus primarily on portraiture and images of nature. 21 Iris belongs to a series of works titled, “Botanicals,” which focus on “the indigenous flora and fauna that grow and thrive in my woods,” including gladiolas, irises, magnolia, poppies, sunflowers, thistles, tulips, and zinnias. In each, the backgrounds tend to be plain, placing primacy on the flowers and yet also drawing attention to themselves as negative space.

Based on the artist’s own garden, 21 Iris depicts twenty-one red-and-white flowers—not including the buds yet to open—each with a dash of yellow and placed against a textured golden background. Asymmetrically arranged, the majority of flowers and their green leaves and stalks appear on the left-hand side of the canvas. A solitary iris pokes up in the lower right-hand side, a focal point for the image and a counter balance for the composition. Although realistically portrayed, the image does not deny that it is a painting: with visible brushwork, a textured background, and forms that are ever-so-slightly simplified and blurred, the painting is characteristic of the artist’s overall style. The painting, like her work in general, can also be read as a reflection of the artist herself. As she explains it, “In the quiet seclusion of my studio I have become familiar with aspects of myself that I cannot reach in any other way . . . [I] create images particular to my personal experience.”

Written by Dr. April Eisman, Associate Professor, Art and Visual Culture for the exhibition (Re)discovering S(h)elves.

*Quote from the artist’s website, Last Accessed: May 30, 2015