"I found all of the images from my Graffiti Tree series within the woods of Alley Pond Park, Queens. Alley Pond Park has one of the "ancient forests of NYC". I photographed graffiti trees in many parks within the five boroughs of NY but the trees in Alley Pond Park were by far the most plentiful and the most interesting, with carvings dating back to the 1930's (as in “Jack Loves Kat” from 1932). 

What I find interesting about these woods is that the carvings are all so different. Walking through the woods was like a trip back in time. Almost every tree had something carved on it which made me imagine the people from the surrounding neighborhoods walking into the park, whether it be kids drinking, smoking and hanging out, or lovers taking a stroll. I found the faceless initials carved on the trees and what might be the story behind them to be most interesting. 

There are carvings that are clearly made from kids who were hanging out in groups. Then there were the more romantic carvings. Some are just cute. I tried to pick a few from each category to make a rounded body of work. 

I guess you can say that the history of the carvings is what inspired me to draw them." 

-M Reilly 2014


"Since my early childhood, nature has had a profound affect on me in ways that I cherish. The state of mind that is instilled within me when walking through the woods, or on a secluded beach by the sights, the sounds, the smells, the sense of nostalgia, the timelessness and diversity of nature's splendor. The peaceful solitude I find there, the quiet introspection it affords me, and the sense of awe I feel from witnessing nature's determined perseverance against time, is so nurturing, uplifting and inspiring. When I draw these scenes and images of nature, all of those thoughts and feelings resurface within me, and I feel centered and peaceful. My intention in sharing my art work is the hope that these images affect the viewer in a similarly positive way.

For my subject matter, I try to find and emphasize the beauty of those locations and images in nature which are often beyond one's passing glance. I generally choose a place that I feel has a tranquil, isolated, and slightly mysterious quality to it as well. For me, working in graphite, using the techniques I've learned and have cultivated over the years, has been extremely gratifying. I tone my paper with up to eight layers of graphite before starting my drawing, taking the surface to a middle tone then pushing the darks and lifting the lights. This process creates subtle shifts in the tone that are in harmonious contrast with the sharpness of the minute details, helping me create a sensuality and a mood in each piece.

Having lived in New York City for more than 20 years, and after having found the natural oasis within the North Woods of Central Park, I decided to research and explore the other 4 boroughs. To my surprise, I discovered that there are beautiful ancient forests here, with magnificent old trees. There are winding rivers, streams, creeks and marshes, as well as, lakes and ponds, and miles of sand dune filled beaches. This work represents some of the natural beauty from the boroughs of New York City that too few get to appreciate. My sense, both emotionally and visually, of New York City's natural side is forever changed, and I hope my work changes your impressions too."

-Mary Reilly


The Woven Tale Press VOL. VI #5
Reilly Captures Inscribed Devotion Stephen Dillon: Artsy Editorial
12 Jan. 2015
Tree Carvings in Forgotten Forests Alison Nastasi
7 Feb. 2015
LEAVINGS: The After Images Wall Street International
26 Jan. 2017
LEAVINGS: The After Images Artsy Editorial
4 Jan. 2017
New York Beauty in Black & White Naomi Ekperigin
Winter 2008
Mary Reilly on 1stdibs
Review: Mary Reilly's "Graffiti Trees" Alice Sant'Anna
20 Feb. 2015
Mary Reilly on Artsy