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mary porterfield2




Porterfield's work questions what makes an act heroic in the midst of daunting circumstances. By amassing hundreds of figures, she depicts scenes from nature, symbolizing situations beyond her control, both literally and figuratively. Many of these situations represent her work as an occupational therapist, as she struggles to accept what she cannot change. She explores this struggle through multi-figured narratives that comprise the landscape. 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. She juxtaposes 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 need is warranted, but not wanted, should it be abandoned? Through the dichotomous nature of the work, her intention is to create a philosophical discussion regarding the struggle to live a compassionate life.

Mary Porterfield earned her Masters in Fine Arts degree from Arizona State University in 2002 and teaches at Northeastern Illinois University. Her work has appeared in group shows throughout the country, including the Phoenix Art Museum, San Diego Art Institute, Rockford Art Museum, and Modified Contemporary Arts Center of Phoenix. Recently, her paintings were featured in an international exhibition at the Lim Lip Art Museum in Chungnam, South Korea. This is her second solo show at the Packer Schopf Gallery. Other solo exhibitions have included the West Valley Art Museum in Surprise, AZ, the Illini Union Gallery in Urbana-Illinois, and the Harry Wood Gallery in Tempe, AZ. She has received numerous awards, including grants from the Illinois Arts Council and Puffin Foundation, and three Community Arts Assistance Program grants.