Mary Sullivan Holdgrafer
A R T I S T ' S S T A T E M E N T
My work is a projection of myself. Each piece offers a bit of information about who I am. The more work I do, the more I see myself and the more I allow myself to be seen. In this process I feel the excitement and pleasure of my own vulnerability.
As an improvisational artist my work is highly intuitive. I interpret significant images and dreams in my work. Sometimes my work serves as a mirror in which I see myself more clearly and sometimes as a journal in which I record my thoughts and experiences. The result is always greater self-awareness. When I share my work with others who find it meaningful it is an added bonus.
The creative process engages my whole being. Working with textiles is a tactile experience. I love to see and touch and even smell the materials I work with. I am aware of many sensations in my body as I work, the encounter with the materials, the pain of long hours at my sewing machine and the physical excitement my work calls forth. The mental process of creating provides me with many hours of pleasure. I love the problem-solving aspects of my work. I also relish the learning which occurs from the synthesis of all my experiences, what I have seen, read, heard and done all becomes a part of my work. I pour my heart and soul into my pieces. I work through emotions. I discover feelings that I was previously unaware of. And in this process my spirit is nurtured. I have faith.
I made the transition from quiltmaker to artist when I produced a series of quilts which described my experience with breast cancer. My textile art became a means of healing. My perspective shifted and I saw new possibilities for my life. My past experiences were enfolded into a new, enriched life which affords possibilities I could not have imagined. As I experiment with my art I constantly challenge the status quo by pushing the edges of what I have known before. As I experiment with my life I find richer and more satisfying ways to be in the world.
T T A K E S C O U R A G E
T O G R O W U P
A N D T U R N O U T
T O B E W H O Y O U
R E A L L Y A R E "
A B O U T T H E A R T I S T
" I D R E A M M Y
C A N Y O U H E L P
C O U R A G E I S
Mary Sullivan Holdgrafer is a textile artist, teacher, facilitator, curator
and scholar. Her work has been exhibited and is held in public and private
collections in Canada and the United States. She was recently featured
in an article in Alberta Views magazine which described the work of five
leading Alberta art quilters.
Mary has an interest in how the creative process can be used to enhance personal growth. She co-leads workshops which focus on issues which are particularly relevant to creative individuals. The first, "Healing Stitches -- How Art Imitates Your Life" is designed to assist fibre artists in examining their personal process as a means of advancing their work. The second, "Igniting Creativity" explores ways to increase spontaniety and pleasure in your work. " Parent Time I & II " provides a pause in the demanding process of parenting teens for personal reflextion and learning. Read about these and all of the workshops in the our workshops section.
During the year 2000 Mary curated an exhibition at the Alberta Craft Council Gallery entitled, "Speculations." In it she asked fine craft artists to speculate on the relationship between their personal values and their work. This thoughtful exhibition identified and described some of the common and unique themes in the lives and work of the contributing artists. * This exhibition has been digitized as a "Virtual" exhibition and can be seen online on the Alberta Craft Council's innovative website.
Using her art to record her own experiences with breast cancer led Mary to do life history research on women who have made breast cancer quilts. Her scholarly work with colleague, Cynthia M. Dunnigan: "The Healing Was in the Stitching" has been reported extensively.
Originally from Kansas, Mary immigrated to Alberta in 1974. She has an undergraduate degree in Home Economics and a masters degree in Education, as well as a diploma in Counseling. She spent many years working as a teacher and administrator in infant and early childhood special education. Mary began making quilts and teaching quilting in the 1970's; however, it was not until 1993 that she began working full time as a textile artist.
the first of Mary's exhibitions >
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