Sense of Place Activities: The Place in Which We Live

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The Place in Which We Live

Mary Stephens, Trees
Mary Stephens, Trees

Today we meet another “sense of place” artist, Mary Stephens. Born and educated in Oklahoma, this quiet, astute artist learned from each of her life stages and represented them in her abstract art works.

Her earliest memories were sketching on her father’s wonderful yellow writing pad, and from there she moved, with disapproval, to shading on the walls. Finally finding teachers who understood her artistic talent in college, Stephens learned about the art element of value (darkness or lightness). Not using black or white for values, she was taught to use yellow for the light value, red for the medium value and blue for the darker value. This you can see in her later mixed media work titled “Trees,” in the current exhibition “Let Me Show You This!”

More about the artist:
Mary Stephens’ sense of place was a deep conviction as she portrayed her childhood cultural community – the Kiowa Indians – in her earliest work. As time went on she stopped this practice, feeling it infringed on their culture.

Dabbling for a while with the textural elements in sculpture, she came back to her lesson in value as the most important part of her art. In this last stage, Stephens would take parts of well-known objects – such as architecture and nature – to make the viewer laugh or think more about the subject. She humbly felt that replicating well-known objects showed others’ artistic genius.

“Sense of Place” Activity by Mary Helen Maskill:
How do I know this? Because Mary Stephens was another of those local artists with whom I talked for hours about art and the place in which we live. So make the best of your cultural education right here at home! See if you can create something of your “place” with a Mary Stephens flare. Here’s my expression, as I have sheltered in place.

painting based of Mary Stephen's painting called Trees