Woman with Snake
“I love the gesture of work, watching someone do work they do well or with experience, with certain essential gestures, nothing wasted. Watch someone washing clothes, lifting things, even cooking. Stirring or sifting. There is a grace.” — Mary Frank, 1979
The bodies of dancers she saw at Martha Graham’s studio, where she began studying at 15, were an early influence on Mary Frank. Graham’s choreographic technique incorporates an angular use of the body to evoke dramatic emotional expression—a concept Frank used to explore feelings of grief, sorrow, mourning, and ecstasy in abstracted works. Frank saw Graham’s teaching as “ferocious and overwhelming,” but the dancer’s love of female figures, along with the biomorphic abstractions of sculptor Henry Moore, which she also studied in those years, stayed with her.
Embracing the commonplace nature of ceramics, Frank favored unglazed clay and preferred to work directly with the material by hand. Linking historical references, such as the goddess figure, to the ephemeral nature of her chosen material, the artist was also drawn to the metaphorical possibilities of clay, which begins as dust and is given form by human touch. Works such as Woman with Snake stand gracefully on their own, as slabs of clay propped up against gravity and decay.
This item is not on view
Gift of Bette Ziegler
© Mary Frank
The Brooklyn Museum holds a non-exclusive license to reproduce images of this work of art from the rights holder named here.
The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act.
For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress
, Cornell University
, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums
, and Copyright Watch
For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright
If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
If you wish to contact the rights holder for this work, please email email@example.com
and we will assist if we can.
Mary Frank (American, born 1933). Woman with Snake, 1980. Clay, 23 x 7 x 13 in. Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Bette Ziegler, 1991.111.2a-b. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: , CUR.1991.111.2a-b_view01.JPG)
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome
any additional information you might have.