Mary Stevenson

A local artist at the 2017 Art in the City

I have had a very long relationship with fabric. At one point, I walked away from it when it became too stressful. I pursued other avenues of creativity but my artistic journey led me back to textiles.

As a painter would create vivid images with a brush, textile artist Mary uses silk, merino fleece, felt and other fabrics as the medium for her art pieces. For Mary, art is a feast for the senses, and is significant due to how it can bring people together, creating a place for the mind to rest and bring joy to the heart.

Art wasn’t always central to Mary’s life. Growing up and entering the work force in the 60’s and 70’s, Mary went into the respectable trade of nursing. However over time, she realised she had a desire to pursue art-making and eventually decided, with the support of her family, to explore her creative side without inhibition. After moving to St. Joseph Island in Ontario, she shifted her focus and started her career as an artist. She designed a clothing line of natural fibres under her label ‘Island Comforts’ which developed into a cottage industry, employing several seamstresses and opening several retail outlets in Ontario. Although, years later her business became a stressful endeavour, and so she and her husband left it behind and moved to California. Mary looked for a new creative path to explore and for a while had small success in making jewellery. She realised she was happiest when she was working with textiles, loving the familiarity of their textures, patterns and designs. She wanted to gain the creative freedom she craved without the restraints of traditional sewing techniques, and so she began to create. From there, her career as a textile artist bloomed.

About five years ago, Mary moved once more to White Rock, inspired by the beautiful beaches and ocean side town. Her house and studio overlooks the Semiahmoo Bay providing her with the vast landscapes and colours that are reflected in her work. As a welcomed newcomer, Mary enjoys the supportive arts scene in Surrey and White Rock, and its wonderful community of artists. She belongs to the active art groups of SSWRAS (South Surrey White Rock Art Society), Semiahmoo Arts, and SAGA (Surrey Art Gallery Association). Mary has taken free art classes, attended art demonstrations, and benefited from several annual gallery opportunities to show and sell her art.

Opportunities for artists in Surrey are everywhere, she exclaims. Artists of every medium can find groups to belong to, classes on every technique. There are many talented artists willing to give some of their time to help others learn and grow. It is a vibrant art community. Art shows, studio tours, performances, businesses that display and support local art… the list goes on and on. You can be as involved as you want to be. Local artists are always willing to extend a warm, supportive hand.

Mary encourages up and coming artists to not be afraid of trying new things. She would like to encourage others to learn, learn and try! No matter what class or demo you attend, even if it is not your medium, be open! There is always something you can take away or store in your memory bank for future use. Do your very best and be content when a piece is finished but never be completely satisfied. Strive to do even better with the next one.

Mary will be participating in Art in the City, a two-day self-guided tour on September 30 and October 1 around 8 Surrey locations housing 29 artists displaying their work! Click here for full event details including locations and fellow participating artists.