Untitled by Mary Fuller McChesney, 1947/2000, Bronze
Coyote Woman with Birds by Mary Fuller McChesney, 2010, Bronze, Ed. 1/6
Pissed-Off Cat by Mary Fuller McChesney, 2010, Concrete & Glass
Snake Goddess by Mary Fuller McChesney, Bronze
Mary Fuller McChesney was born in 1922 in Wichita, Kansas. By 1924 she had moved to California, where she grew up in the Central Valley. Fuller began her education at the University of California at Berkeley, where she studied philosophy. She apprenticed in ceramics at the California Faience Company in Berkeley, and worked as a welder in the Richmond shipyards during World War II.
Fuller was largely self-taught as an artist. She has been sculpting since the 1940s, creating her projects in the garden of her hand-built, ranch-style bohemian home. Fuller casts giant totems and goddesses out of a special mixture of vermiculite, sand, cement and water, which she carves directly into with a knife and rasp. These enchanting animals and mythological women are formed in a cubist style, reminiscent of pre-Columbian sculpture and African art, which profoundly influence her aesthetic and artistic guides.
Fuller has written and published many short stories, poems, and articles in various prominent arts magazines including Art Digest, Artforum, Art in America, Craft Horizons, and American Craft. She was a staff writer at Currant, a researcher for the Archives of American Art, a Ford Foundation Fellow and the recipient of the 1975 NEA Art Critic’s Grant. She has also published three mystery novels under a pseudonym.
Her art book, A Period of Exploration, provides a look at the San Francisco art scene from 1945-50. It was published in 1973 by the Oakland Museum, in conjunction with an exhibition of the work discussed in the book.
The renowned sculptor has lived in Sonoma County since 1952, exhibiting her sculptures at numerous museums and galleries throughout the country and in Mexico. She currently lives on Sonoma Mountain surrounded by her sculptures and the work of her late life partner, artist Robert Pearson McChesney.
Fullers’ unique sculptures can be found in many public places and private collections. Her public sculpture commissions can be seen throughout the state, including the Petaluma Library, the San Francisco Zoo, the San Francisco General Hospital, Portsmouth Square in San Francisco, Salinas Community Center, Andrew Hill High School in San Jose, Department of Motor Vehicles in Yuba City, and Squaw Valley. In short, she has lived a rich and accomplished life as an art-loving Renaissance woman.