Mary G. L. Hood (1886-1967), a Philadelphia native, studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, but would ultimately reject her traditional academic training in favor of an avant-garde art. She balanced her artistic aspirations with a traditional family life and later thrived in the artist’s community of New Hope, Pennsylvania, where she created modernist still life, floral and landscape works.
Hood first attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1903-4. Notable classmates at the Academy were Daniel Garber and Arthur B. Carles. Her teachers included William Merritt Chase, Thomas Anshutz, Henry Breckenridge, Cecilia Beaux and Henry McCarter. Hood left the Academy after two semesters, and despite her determination to be an artist, left painting behind for many years to marry and raise four children. She reenrolled in 1929, but soon found its traditional academic model too confining. Hood quit her formal studies and instead took private lessons with Academy instructors Arthur B. Carles and Henry McCarter. Both men integrated their exposure to avant-garde art and ideas while living in Europe into their instruction. These lessons helped Hood to form her own modernist vision, especially through her exploration of abstraction and the expressive range of color in still life and floral subjects, as well as in landscapes and cityscapes.
In 1941, Hood and her family left Philadelphia and moved to the artists’ colony of New Hope, Pennsylvania. The divide she had experienced at the Academy was also evident in this community. The academic artists (New Hope Impressionists) led by Edward Redfield and Daniel Garber opened the Phillips Mill Community Center in 1929. In selecting the works to be exhibited they shut out the younger painters (New Hope Modernists). In turn, the modernists created the Independents Gallery in town and hung inclusive exhibitions. The scene in New Hope was well polarized by the time Hood arrived, but she seemed to easily straddle this great divide.
Although Hood did not sell her works, or exhibit them often in New Hope, this artists’ colony was a fertile field. In New Hope, a family life and an engagement with an ever-growing community of fellow Modernists could coexist and for Hood this mix allowed her to make her most important works. These works explore the most avant-garde ideas in painting in the early 20th Century and though little known, are an important contribution to New Hope modernism.
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Annual Exhibition, Philadelphia (1939)
Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Exhibition, Philadelphia (1941)
Joint exhibition of Mary G. L. Hood and daughter Agnes Hood Miller, Philadelphia Art Alliance (1941)
Mary G. L. Hood, Pedersen Gallery, Lambertville, NJ (2003)
Mary G. L. Hood: Woman Modernist, Demuth Museum, Lancaster, PA (2007)
Mary G. L. Hood: Woman Modernist, Phillips Mill Community Association, New Hope, PA (November 24-December 9, 2007.
Anne M. Lampe, Executive Director, Demuth Museum, Lancaster, PA