Mary Phelan is a Chicago artist whose paintings celebrate the poetry of the ordinary in the city environment. Seeking to connect the viewer with what is often overlooked, her works also hold meanings that transcend their immediate subject. The underlying context, informed by Asian principles of feng shui, attempts to address deeper truths about the human experience.
Phelan’s career includes: chairing the Life Drawing and Foundations Departments at the American Academy of Art, Chicago; magazine and book illustration; and commissioned works for universities, hospitals, museums, and private collections. She has exhibited extensively in the Midwest, with solo shows presented in several museums and galleries.
Earlier commissioned work includes many portraits. She is represented in the collections of the University of Illinois (Urbana), Robert Morris College (Chicago), the University of Illinois, Chicago, and the Library of Congress, Washington D.C., among other institutions. Examples of her illustrations can be seen on permanent installations at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago, and in numerous publications, including The Urban Tree Book (Crown Publishers/Random House).