Mary Porterfield


perceiving the brink

Perceiving the Brink

Pool of Life

Pool of Life


One and Two Person Exhibitions
2015 Solo Exhibition, Great River Road Museum of Contemporary Art, Potosi, WI.
2015 Solo Exhibition, Packer-Schopf Gallery, Chicago, Il.
2014 Two Person Show with Orlando Boffill, Becky Art Space, Jeon Ju, South Korea.
2012 Two Person Show with Nina Weiss, Koehnline Museum, Des Plaines, Il.
2011 Solo Exhibition, Packer-Schopf Gallery, Chicago, Il.
2011 Solo Exhibition, University of Illinois, Illini Union Art Gallery, Urbana, Il.
2010 Two Person Show with Oscar Martinez, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Kenosha, WI.
2009 Two Person Show with Frank Bell, Noyes Cultural Center, Evanston, Il.
2008 Solo Exhibition, St.Xavier University, Chicago, Il.
2007 Solo Exhibition, Gallery 180, Illinois Institute of Art, Chicago, Il.
2006 Solo Exhibition, Moraine Valley Community College, Palos Hills, Il.
2005 Solo Exhibition, Illinois Central College, Peoria, Il.
2004 Solo Exhibition, West Valley Art Museum, Surprise, AZ.
2004 Two Person Show with Joe Ray, Grand Canyon State University, Phoenix, AZ.
2002 Solo Exhibition, Harry Wood Gallery, Tempe, AZ.
1999 Two Person Show with Carol Sue Horstman, Midtown Contemporary Arts Center, St. Louis,MO.

Selected Group Exhibitions

2014 Gongju International Art Exhibition, Lim Lip Museum, Gongju-si, Chungnam, Korea.
2014 As They Like It, Elmhurst Art Museum, Elmhurst, Il. (traveling exhibition to Carthage
College, Bowling Green State University and the Beverly Arts Center)
2013 Artists Respond to Genocide, Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Chicago, Il.
2013 In a Perfect World, Beverly Arts Center, Chicago, Il.
2012 Rockford Midwestern, Rockford Art Museum, Rockford, Il.
2012 Artist and Nature, Uptown Arts Center, Chicago, Il.
2012 Wipe Out, Peanut Gallery, Chicago, Il.
2011 Draw the Line, Prak-Sis Art Space, Chicago, Il.
2010 Third Coast National, Kspace Contemporary, Corpus Christi, TX. (Juror: Trenton Doyle
2010 Converging Trajectories, Modified Contemporary Arts Center, Phoenix, AZ.
2010/08 Packer-Schopf Gallery, Chicago, Il.
2009 33rd Annual Beverly Art Competition, Beverly Arts Center, Chicago, Il.
2008 National Art Premiere, Elmhurst Art Museum, Elmhurst, Il.
2008 The Art of Real Estate,” The Illinois Institute of Art, Chicago, Il.
2007 Contemporary Symbolism, Prairie State College, Chicago Heights, Il. (Juror: Lanny Silverman, Curator, Chicago Cultural Center)
2005/04/03 Aron Packer Gallery, Chicago, IL.
2004 Exhibition of Contemporary Forum Grant Winners, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ.
2004 Pigment: Contemporary Painting Invitational National Group Exhibition, Bradley
University, Peoria, Il.
2004/02/01 Combined Talents: Annual Florida National Competition, Florida State
University Museum of Fine Arts, Tallahassee, FL.
2003 Eye Lounge: A Contemporary Art Space, Phoenix, AZ.
2003 7th Annual Artlink Juried Exhibition, Sixth Street Studios, Phoenix, AZ (Juror: Brady
Roberts, Curator, Phoenix Art Museum).
2002 New Works in Paint: A National Juried Exhibition, Mesa Arts Center, Mesa, AZ.
2002 Visions International Competition, Art Center Waco, Waco, TX. (Juror: Peter Frank, Art critic and curator)
2002 Juror’s Choice, Shemer Art Center, Phoenix, AZ.
2002 Draw the Line VII, Visual Arts Gallery, Phoenix, Arizona.
2001 45th Annual International Exhibition, San Diego Art Institute, San Diego, CA.
2000 RE/Surface, Marshall Arts Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ.
2000 Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Arizona. (Juror: Beverly Adams, Curator of the Phoenix Art Museum)
2000 Harry Wood Gallery at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. (Juror: Meg Linton, Director of the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum).
1999 Northern National Juried Art Competition, Nicolet College, Rhinelander, Wisconsin.
1999 34th Open International Exhibition, Fine Arts Institute of the San Bernardino County
Museum, Redlands, CA.
1997 Women’s Caucus for Art National 25th Anniversary Exhibition, Artemisia Gallery,
Chicago, IL. (Juror: Faith Ringgold).
1996 The Arts in Celebration Fifth Biennial Regional Juried Exhibition”, SIU Museum,
Carbondale, Il. (Juror: Elizabeth Millard, Director, St.Louis Forum for Contemporary Art).
2014 Residency, Coohaus Gallery, Chelsea, NY, NY
2014 Professional Development Grant, Illinois Artist Council
2011 Puffin Foundation Grant
2011 Illinois Artist Council, Project Development Grant.
2011/09 Ragdale Foundation Residency
2010 Best of Show, Third Coast National, Kspace Contemporary, Corpus Christi, TX.
2010/09/07 Community Arts Assistance Program Grant, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.
2010 Anderson Center Artist Residency, Red Wing, MN.
2009 Best of Show, Beverly Arts Center, Chicago, Il.
2008 Purchase Award, Illinois Institute of Art.
2003 Artists Materials Grant, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ.
2002 Honorable Mention, Combined Talents: 17th Annual Florida National Competition, Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts, Tallahassee, FL.
2002 Juror‘s Award, Draw the Line VII, Visual Arts Gallery, Phoenix, AZ.
2001 Grand Award, “45th Annual International Exhibition,” San Diego Art Institute, San Diego, CA.
2001 Arizona State University Nominee for Dedalus Foundation Fellowship
1999 Graduate Tuition Scholarship, School of Art, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ.
1999 Centennial Prize, “Sixth Sense Juried Exhibition,” St.Louis Artists’ Guild, St.Louis, MO.

Professional Experience

2005-present Northeastern Illinois University, Instructor
2004-2007 Harrington College of Design, Instructor
2003 Guest Lecturer, Slide Slam Series, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
2000-2002 Arizona State University, Instructor


Artist's Profile

Mary Porterfield, who earned her Masters in Fine Arts from Arizona State University in 2002, teaches at Northeastern Illinois University. She has had 10 solo exhibitions at venues including the Packer-Schopf Gallery in Chicago, the University of Illinois- Urbana and the West Valley Art Museum in Surprise, AZ. Her work has been included in group exhibitions throughout the country, including the Elmhurst Art Museum, Modified Contemporary Arts Center of Phoenix, Rockford Art Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, and the San Diego Art Institute. She is the recipient of numerous honors for her work including grants from the Illinois Artist Council and Puffin Foundation, and three Community Arts Assistance Program Grants.

"Painting allows me to bring organization to situations I perceive as overwhelming. Space, form and line are the tools I use to bring unity to the conflicted worlds I am compelled to depict. I often reference acts of nature to represent situations that are beyond my control, both literally and figuratively.

Previously, my work was influenced by my experience as an occupational therapist to individuals with Alzheimer s disease. I used altered perspectives to create an environment, representing a loss of familiarity and comfort. Human and animal forms were grouped to create a larger landscape, symbolizing aspects of dementia. Just as memory loss is often disguised from afar, the proximity of forms created an illusion of normality, seen from a distance. However, the illusion became fragmented with closer study, representing an altered thought process and what was outwardly hidden.
Recently, my work has become more personal, expressing my struggle to accept what I cannot change, particularly in the lives of my patients. Sweeping vistas, geysers, waterfalls and volcanic eruptions are comprised multi-figured narratives that question what makes an act heroic. Some of the figures include saints, who spent their lives giving selflessly and unconditionally to those in need. Other figures strive to balance these ideals with the need to live a self-fulfilling life. I juxtapose layered allegories in an attempt to ask and resolve: Does it take more courage to be selfless or self-seeking? Is it better to deny futility or accept what cannot be changed? If assistance is warranted but not wanted, should it be abandoned hrough the dichotomous nature of the work, my intention is describe the deceptive appearance of situations and the many layers that can often underlie our actions."

The Foresters Oil on panel 37" x 51" 2013-2014

Falls of Reliance Oil on panel 50" x 42" 2014-2015


Fields of Departure Oil on panel 36" x 50" 2013-2014