Mary Ellen Bartley is an American artist known for her photographs that explore the tactile and formal qualities of the printed book and its potential for abstraction. Her work has been widely exhibited, including solo shows at Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York, Guild Hall Museum in East Hampton, New York and The San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art in San Jose, California. Bartley’s work has been featured in several exhibitions exploring themes of the book and photo-objects caught in transition from the analog to the digital realm. These include: Out of Print at the Bakersfield Museum of Art in California, The Thing Itself at Yancey Richardson Gallery, and Ordinary Pictures at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
The painter Ross Bleckner chose Bartley to exhibit her work alongside his at the Parrish Art Museum’s Artists Choose Artists exhibition in 2011, in Southampton, New York.
Bartley was a Watermill Center 2015 Artist in Residence and spent a month working with the library there creating the installation Reading Robert Wilson, followed by a “book of books” titled Reading Robert Wilson, which was shortlisted for the Fotobookfestival Kassel Dummy Award in 2015. A 2016 residency at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY culminated with an exhibition displaying the “frottage” book rubbings and photos made there. Her interest in working with libraries and archives continues, she is currently a visiting artist at The Queens Museum working with Andrew Beccone’s Reanimation Library.