Our Shelf Life

Mary Ensz (she/they) layers nesting doll shapes with human bodies and pairs them with 100 sight words on 35 wooden shelves. The exhibit celebrates identities that are systemically shelved, promotes suicide awareness, and commemorates those whose “shelf lives” have been cut short. Through intimate, boldly colored illustrations, Ensz honors our impermanence and resilience on pieces of furniture that were once collecting dust, but are now the art themselves.

Behind the Scenes and Opening Night

Rainbow nesting dolls made a path around the room as a journey with the inner child.

Rubbish, nostalgia, passed down and newly created items make up this nest of mixed feelings, experiences and healings. Amongst the materials are a trunk and photos from the 1890s, new children's books, art made by several generations, and a pregnancy pillow Mary used during both her pregnancies.

   Papier-Mâché nesting doll to hold notes, eggs, and small playing children.

A list of the rubbish, nostalgia, media sources in the nest and what got us through the pandemic.

 The  Bound/ Abound Series

100 Sight Word Selfies a Community Project

A compilation of photos taken by Omaha + community members sharing parts of themselves they have felt most self conscious or "othered" and/or which they now feel the most self love. They chose sight words that kindergartners learn to pair with their selfies and created a small description to go with their image. The concept was that young children learn sight words such rigor; let's have both kids and adults become just as literate in empathy and compassion to each others vulnerabilities and differences.

Projections of "Sight Word Selfies" community project.
Panorama of Our Shelf Life front room.


Click here to view and shop her original works and print.

Click here to see Mary's current and upcoming arts shows.

Click here view and shop the available prints and original work from the Shelf Life art exhibition.

Commission & Mural Request