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Mary Modeen is an artist and a senior academic at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, University of Dundee (Scotland). She teaches undergraduates and postgraduates both fine art and interdisciplinary studies, linking creative practice with academic studies in the humanities, particularly philosophy, literature, feminist and indigenous studies. An MFA course in Art & Humanities begins in September 2012, which Modeen directs. She also supervises PhD candidates in interdisciplinary practice-led research, and serves as an external examiner in this capacity. Her own research has several threads: perception as a cognitive and interpretive process, and place-based research, which tends to connect cultural values, history and embodied experience. As such, this work usually combines creative art practice and writing.

Recently, she was a co-investigator in two funded research projects: the first was a major AHRC research project entitled Poetry Beyond Text: Vision, Text and Cognition. The second was an RES funded grant entitled Engendering Dialogue: feminist thought and contemporary debates in art, science, and education. For this last, Modeen will curate an exhibition and host an artist’s panel at the symposium in March 2012 in Dundee. She is a founding member and co-convener of a newly emerging international research group called Mapping Spectral Traces, as well as directing PLaCE Scotland, and (in 2012) co-convening Land2.

Modeen’s recent publications include a book chapter entitled On Poohsticks and Rivers of Referents, in a book edited by Grethe Mitchell and published by Intellect (2013). Additionally, she has an article entitled ‘The Opposite of Snake: The Art of Jimmie Durham’ forthcoming in a special edition of the Journal of Surrealism in the Americas (2012), and another article invited by the Philosophy of Photography journal, ‘In Praise of Multiplicity’, pending. Her recent books are: Poetry Beyond Text (2011); Remembered Places (2007)and This Place Called Home (2007).


Modeen co-convenes three separate research networks: the international Mapping Spectral Traces group (; the UK-wide Land2 network ( ; and she convenes the PLaCE Scotland research network, in concert with the other four PLaCE research groups in the consortium ( PLaCE England (Bristol); PLaCE Minneapolis; PLaCE Melbourne; and PLaCE Nantes.

She is interested in the nexus of traditional folklife, local history and contemporary art in island cultures, both literal and metaphorical. In work ranging from Mannin/Man, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Aotearoa/New Zealand as physical islands, and Native American/First Nation Canadian, Maori, and Basque peoples as indigenous cultures, she has been examining cultural identities and humanist art, combining creative practice with critical writing.  Mary reappraises aspects of Indigenous peoples’ identity and how this is manifested in visual culture; the land and its role in shaping folk life; the role of traditional skills and their value in contemporary life; how memory functions in Indigenous communities and its subsequent visualisation; representations and definitions; and the aesthetics of land, place and its people.

Her work is represented by the Graphic Studio Gallery of Dublin, Ireland and has been exhibited widely across the world. Books include Poetry Beyond Text: Vision, Text and Cognition, Editor and author, Dundee:University of Dundee, 56pp; This Place Called Home, published by Manx National Heritage (2006); and Remembered Places, published by Ballarat Fine Art Gallery (2007). Chapters in books published in both Poland [Cartographies of Culture, Vol. 2]  and New Zealand [Pono: Insights into Indigenous Knowledge]. Writing and creative studio practice are complementary in Mary’s work, reflecting the balance between analytical reflection and visual investigation.



Mary Modeen

From Shadows, Spectres, and Transparencies by Laurence Davies

Viewed from a distance in a spacious gallery, or in miniature on a page of thumbnails, Mary Modeen’s prints look like the work of an artist enraptured by tonality and tint – as indeed she is. Sometimes deeply saturated and richly various like the later paintings and drawings of Samuel Palmer, sometimes intensely concentrated on a delicate and narrow range of shades like a bolder version of Gwen John’s, her palette is generous and inventive.