Mary Ahern Biography

Painting Meditative Journey-Immortality Iris

For Mary Ahern, the two constant passions that have sustained her through the twists and turns of her artistic journey are the creative expression of her art and the boundless inspiration she finds in her garden. Each spring, Ahern transitions from the solitary pursuit of painting in her studio to the vibrant, rejuvenating world of her garden. The bursts of color and life that emerge remind her of the cyclical nature of existence – the quest for survival, the inevitable decay, and the promise of rebirth. These themes of harmony, balance, and the interplay of the micro and macro have become central to Ahern’s artistic vision.

Ahern’s creative process has been one of unending exploration. She has worked in a myriad of mediums, shifting between autobiographical and more abstract approaches. But the common thread has always been a deep love of color and a fascination with the Masters who have come before her. As a young artist in New York City, Ahern was fortunate to study under renowned painters who grounded her in the fundamentals of color, design, and technique. Their mentorship, combined with Ahern’s voracious study of art history, has continued to inform her work. Seeing Georgia O’Keeffe’s groundbreaking paintings, with their high-keyed color palette for the first time was a revelatory moment, sparking an enduring respect for women artists who have carved their own path.

In the 1980s, Ahern navigated a detour into the emerging world of computer graphics by selling electronic paint systems and character generators into the broadcast television and production industries. She applied her artistic expertise to the commercial realm in order, as a single parent, to support her two sons. Having experienced a concussion on the glass ceiling, she founded her own graphic design business and embraced the potential of the internet by designing websites for her clients beginning the year after the internet became commercially available in 1995.

This willingness to embrace change has been a hallmark of Ahern’s career, leading her, exactly 20 years after receiving her degree in Fine Art, to pursue a degree in Ornamental Horticulture and channel her passion for gardening into landscape design. These lush, ever-evolving gardens that surround her home and studio have become the primary subject and inspiration for Ahern’s art.

But the pull of the studio never waned, and she had always maintained a working studio throughout her years in business. Her work ranged from digital imaging using cameras, a scanner, and software, to botanical illustration with microscopes and magnifiers. There is an abundance of artwork created with oils, acrylics, watercolors, colored pencils, and graphite. The subjects throughout the last few decades have been inspired by her garden.

As Ahern looks to the future, she is focused on exploring the parallels between the intricate workings of the natural world and the grand, cosmic scales of the universe. Through layers of abstraction, realism, and transparency, she aims to capture the essence of our shared quest for meaning and purpose. It is this fundamental pursuit that has driven Ahern’s artistic journey, and it continues to guide her creative vision.


Click here for my Artist’s resume or here for my Artist Statement.