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A Gay in the Life: Mary King
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times
2013-01-30

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As a child, Mary King lived on a farm and her my mother sold eggs to people who came from the nearby town. King then used the remaining pages in her mom's receipt books to draw.

"I first just made curvy lines," she said.

That expanded into paper dolls which she made from pages out of the old Sears Roebuck catalogs.

Then when her brother got a job in a paper mill, he'd bring home the end rolls of paper, and she'd draw life-size paper dolls.

"I've done art as long as I can remember," King said. "Art is just a part of me. My art comes from my heart."

In the 1980s, King start making figure drawings wearing a blindfold—"and that's when I found my true voice, when I started drawing pictures about relationships and making the figures very emotional," she said.

In the 1990s, she moved to Chicago and started teaching near the Indiana border, near an abundance of factories, steel mills and refineries.

That led to her series of artwork under the Beautiful Industry framework.

Her art also includes such categories as People You Know and War Stories.

"I want my art to open up the world for people," King said. "Initially, my art clearly was about lesbian life. I have now expanded into [more] themes. I'm making art now that is important to me at this time."

Three times per year, each for a six-week stretch, King sets up her art studio in the home of her girlfriend in Hamburg, Germany. While abroad, she often is talking to Germans for inspiration for her War Stories art.

"I think I have something to say [with my art,] especially with these war pictures," she said.

King will have a one-person showing next March at the South Bend (Ind.) Museum of Art.

THE STATS

Age

70

Neighborhood

Kenwood

Hometown

A farm near Sturgis, Mich.

Job title

Artist

Relationship

Girlfriend, Karin Herrmann

Favorite artist

"No favorite; I study many to broaden my work. I was inspired years ago by Ida Applebroog."

Little-known fact

"I'm a very open person; you won't find secrets about me."


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