Mary Filiss is a painter and quilter living in Marshall, North Carolina. She attended art school, Cooper Union College in NYC, and upon graduation, Mary and her husband shared studio space in the same neighborhood as some of the rising stars of the period’s art scene.
Life happened, and after many adventures and years of raising children, Mary is finally returning to her art in her retirement years.
I will let her tell her own story, though, as it is too good to spoil by giving you many of the details here!
This is another one of the original interviews I conducted; in fact, this one was held purely as practice for me and not intended for release. Mary is a close neighbor of mine, so one day in January 2016, when we were both stormed-in on the same hill, she agreed for me to come over and pass some of that snowy day by chatting about her art. I learned an awful lot about my neighbor!
Months later, I listened to the recording, realized how much I loved the interview, and sought Mary’s permission to air it. I was a little concerned about some of the more personal things Mary had revealed, though, so I brought the recording to her house and we listened together, to make sure she was ok to go live with her story. Mary graciously agreed for me to release this interview. Her only concern is, she isn’t quite sure she fits in with the company of the other great artists who have been guests on the Local Hearted Podcast.
I have no doubt that you will find Mary’s story every bit as interesting as some of the more well-known artists I have talked with. I know I did! And it was mentioned, but I want to highlight, that Mary and her husband came to Madison County, NC to raise a family in 1973, living among neighbors whose roots in these mountains all went back many generations. Mary’s family lived a rugged farming life in the far reaches of the countryside, the type of lifestyle Tim Barnwell was researching and photographing (although he did not photograph her family).
To connect with Mary and see more of her work:
- SCROLL down! Mary does not have a website, so the photos on this blog are the only place online to see her work
- visit the Laurel River Store, which carries quilts and aprons made by Mary
Highlights of this interview include:
- Why Mary stopped painting for how many years??
- Which art form she used to satisfy her need for creating with color during the period she wasn’t painting
- Mary discussing her training and her influences and what purpose her art serves in her life now
- The story Mary tells of a woman in Columbia who showed how much she valued her own work when Mary’s husband tried to purchase a handwoven poncho from her
Local artists mentioned during this episode:
- Mary Maupin
- Joe Dudasik (no website found)
- Brit Oie
- Paula Parker (no website found, but she does teach art for AB-Tech Continuing Ed)
- Peter Loewer
- Ursula Gullow
Other artists mentioned during this episode:
- Franz Kline
- Jasper Johns
- Robert Rauschenberg
- Willem deKooning
- Pierre Bonnard
- Edouard Vuillard
- Henri Matisse
- David Hockney
Other examples of Mary’s work (with a huge thank you to Nan Sherry for photographing the art):