Mary Porterfield’s drawings are influenced by her work as an occupational therapist and her interactions with patients and their caregivers. In painting on transparent, glassine paper, she progressively layers her images to address the reoccurring difficulties in health care that are often hidden or forgotten. Some drawings detail the attempt of elderly hands to maintain a sense of self-sufficiency or express a response to that struggle. Other images depict her grandmother and convey the loss of identity that can occur as degenerative illnesses affect the completion of self-care or functional movement. The underlying layers represent the obscured sense of self that attempts to overcome those difficulties.
Porterfield has exhibited both nationally and internationally at venues including the Lim Lip Museum in South Korea, the Phoenix Art Museum, the San Diego Art Institute, the Kohler Arts Center, the Dubuque Art Museum, the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, the Rockford Art Museum, the Hyde Park Art Center and the Weatherspoon Art Museum. Solo shows have included the Hofheimer Gallery (Chicago, Il), the Packer-Schopf Gallery (Chicago, Il), Indiana University-NW (Gary, IN), the University of Illinois (Urbana, Il) and the West Valley Art Museum (Surprise, Il). Honors include three Illinois Artist Council Grants, a City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs Grant (DCASE), a Puffin Foundation Grant, and three Chicago Community Arts Assistance Program Grants. Porterfield teaches at Northeastern Illinois University and received an MFA from Arizona State University.