Mary FitzGerald (born 1956) is an Irish artist who lives and works in Dublin and County Waterford. After graduating from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin in 1977, she moved to Japan where she lived and exhibited between 1979 and 1981. FitzGerald has held numerous solo exhibitions in Ireland, Europe and the United States and has participated in group exhibitions worldwide. She has represented Ireland at ROSC, L'Imaginaire Irlandais and the XVIII Bienal de Sao Paulo. Her 2009 show, Afterlife, which was held at the Fenton Gallery, Cork, was reviewed in The Irish Times by Aidan Dunne on 27 May 2009. The exhibit was accompanied by the publication of a limited edition, large format book by the same name published by Four Courts Press. It presented five of her recent works along with an essay by Caoimhín Mac Giolla Léith. (Mac Giolla Léith is an art critic and lecturer and served on the 2005 Turner Prize jury along with Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate). It was her first show since 1995 and was a return to a career interrupted by a car accident in the mid-1980s that forced a creative hiatus. She works out her studio in Dublin as well as her home in Waterford and has also resumed her travels, recently spending time in Africa, the Antarctic, South America and Asia (she was in Sri Lanka when the tsunami hit in 2004 – the sense of violence, catastrophe and mortality is often reflected in her work).FitzGerald's recent work has been characterised as an attempt to convey vulnerability through images which are impermanent, transient and almost invisible (she often utilises smoke, grease and water condensation encased in plexiglass). Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, her work was largely spare and austere and she appeared to prefer a limited palette. She often worked with a variety of media including glass, metal, fabric and paper and has designed a number of tapestries and carpets as well as costume designs for opera. An understated approach is a continuing theme in her work. The years she spent in Japan clearly influenced her work and it sometimes featured quasi-calligraphic marks characteristic of Asian art. She also works with materials that have a certain fragility and has been quoted as saying that as all experience is qualified by the inevitability of the end, most art, and hers in particular, has a fundamental concern with death (in conversation with Felicity Woolf). FitzGerald's subjects could be described as grim, focusing as they do on pain, loss, vulnerability to disaster, the transience and fragility of life, but her work does not depress. There is an elegant austerity and a calm stillness to it. Work can be a way of coming to terms with difficult things and making something meaningful from what might otherwise overwhelm and destroy. A 2009 video installation, Caoineadh  (Lament, in Irish) has a rueful humour to it — a pleading to get through the door.From 26 January 2012 – 3 March 2012, the first exhibition by Mary FitzGerald at the Green on Red Gallery in Dublin takes place and is her first in Dublin for some years. The exhibition consists of an array of projected, looped and even live images and objects installed in the gallery, drawing and insinuating the viewer into the realm of its layered and site-specific arrangement. HALFLIFE is a dramatic shift in the artist's practice and, by any standard, one of the most ambitious in its aims and realisation. This seems wholly appropriate, however, for an artist of FitzGerald's ability and radicalism. One can recognise themes and subtleties here that are wholly consistent with the younger FitzGerald. For example, even of her earlier works in oil on canvas FitzGerald was acutely aware of how the viewer and the object viewed cohabited: ' The work has a physical relationship with the audience who share the same space ; it begins the process of communication. ' * The absence here of oil, organisms, metal pins, etc. on painted canvas or panel will surprise many. HALFLIFE is nothing if not a new stage on this artist's journey and an intriguing invitation to follow suit.Mortality is a central theme that continues in this exhibition to confront the artist and the viewer. In fact, through a series of narrative progressions the visitor is innocently plunged into a purgatorial route through the gallery's dimly lit spaces while watching and, unwittingly, being watched. Many emotions and themes are explored. A sense of disorientation and confusion follows you as you plot through the work, through the various media and the many different surface treatments and aspects. There is no consistent or even visible horizon. Time and space are poorly defined in the dim light. Just as you are looking, peering there is the slowly dawning realisation of being caught on camera. In a crucial hall-of-mirrors moment the viewer him/herself becomes subject and agent at once. You are both actor and acted on.The blank minimal action of the enveloping four screen projection in Passage echoes the achingly slow movement in Bruce Nauman's Mapping the Studio I (Fat Chance John Cage) 2001, but couldn't be further away in terms of artist's ' studio '. The walls of Fitzgerald's studio are non-existent. Instead of containment there is openness to seeming infinity.Fitzgerald tackles issues of life and death head on. We stand on the edge of nothingness and extinction in the extreme Antarctic environment filmed on site in Drakes Passage, Argentina. Skeletal remains replace mirror images. The exhibition opens and closes with mounds of dust. FitzGerald is by no means the first artist to focus on the complete or closing life cycle as a central subject in her work. Eva Hesse, Bas Jan Ader, Damien Hirst have all made this universal subject a central inspiration or obsession. Few have contemplated such serious and pained subjects to such ethereal and entrancing effect through the telling use of sand, water, seeds, dust, bones and books. The invitation to contemplation gives this ' journey ' a real purpose and conclusion, notwithstanding regular sharp reminders of the harshest of conditions.' Kant describes the sight of the night sky, the expanse of which exceeds the field of vision and eludes the grasp of the imagination. It is in the very instant, however, when the subject painfully experiences the limitations of the capacities of its own senses and finds itself overwhelmed by the vastness of the universe, that the subject recognises that it bears the element of universality in itself, in the form of the moral principle – and can thus justifiably assert itself against the magnificence of nature, the sublime becomes the pathway to an intensified sense of self-experience. ' Bas Jan Ader In Search of the Miraculous, Jan Verwoert, p. 51 ' Lightduress ' by Caoimhín MacGiolla Léith in Mary Fitzgerald : AFTERLIFE, p. 11She was elected a member of Aosdána (an organisation established by the Irish Government to honour those who have made an outstanding contribution to the Arts in Ireland, limited to 250 living members) in 1990.