My hope is that we learn to accept ourselves for our strengths and weaknesses without the fear of rejection for our unique differences…


Painter Mary Sauer was born in Greenville, Kentucky in 1986. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States including over a dozen shows in New York City alone. Mary is a 2014 recipient of The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant for traditional figure painting and winner of the 2014 Director’s Award at the Springville Museum of Art’s annual Spring Salon. Mary's art is influenced by nineteenth century painting including John Singer Sargent, the Pre-Raphealites, and the French Academics as well as contemporary realist academic painting and fashion photography. Her philosophy is to combine the nineteenth century techniques of painting with more modern conceptual ideas, especially regarding how we present ourselves to the world psychologically.

Her work has been featured on the cover of American Art Collector Magazine, in the annual, "21 Under 31," feature in Southwest Art Magazine, and in feature articles in both International Artist Magazine and the April 2014 issue of The Artists Magazine. Her painting, 'Anna' was awarded Best in Show at the 2012 Portrait Society of America International Portrait Competition, for which she was again a finalist in 2013. Her education includes a BFA in Illustration from Brigham Young University in 2009, further studies at The Art Student's League of New York and The Grand Central Academy of Art, and an MFA from The University of Utah. For two years she apprenticed in the studio of master painter William Whitaker. She has served as an adjunct faculty member at Brigham Young University teaching advanced life drawing, at the University of Utah teaching painting and drawing, and currently at Utah Valley University where she teaches the Painting the Human Head(portrait painting) class. Her work is in a number of permanent collections including those of the Springville Museum of Art and the LDS Church History Museum. She maintains an active portrait career and is represented by Sloane Merrill Gallery in Boston, Anthony's Fine Art in Salt Lake City, and Meyer Gallery in Park City, UT.  She currently resides near Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband David, an operatic tenor, and their daughter Scarlett.

Artist Statement

I am interested in the pressure of perfection that we face in today's social structure. In our current society, we often allow social media to control the expectations of the path our lives should lead. This can lead to a false public identity that is more about display than actual interaction, while hiding one’s true self. I hope to call attention to these new social norms that are impeding our mental ability to reach out to others and allow us to accept both our beauty and imperfections. By placing prescribed expectations on ourselves, we perpetuate inadequacy and block the feelings of gratitude for what we have and are. By comparing our misfortunes to the successes of others we are unfairly keeping ourselves from being truly happy. My paintings call to attention the idea of this image manufacturing by utilizing the figure as an object, rather than a portrait even though the overall composition remains a portrait. This along with other items meant for display as seen in homes and stores creates a composition blocked-in with tight drawing and form, painterly strokes and careful attention to color harmonies. These elements allow me to frame the model as a literal item in the storefront or interior design rather than being a telling image of the personality of the sitter. The work is less ambiguous and more literal than mainstream modern art, as I portray my subject matter in a naturalistic manner. This is slowly transitioning to even more literal narrative as I further explore the language and stories of my subjects. My goal is to bridge the gap between conceptual art and classically trained figurative paintings and create pieces that use beauty, technical mastery, and a timeless subject matter to convey a symbolic narrative that becomes a visual manifestation of the internal psychological space where perfectionism lives.