PARKINSON’S DIAGNOSIS DOESN’T SLOW LOCAL ARTIST
Noah Webster House Exhibits Works by Mary Smeallie
The Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society is delighted to present an exhibit titled “Persistence” featuring original works by West Hartford artist Mary Cottle Smeallie. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, November 17 from 5:00 -7:00 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. The exhibit will be on display at the museum through December. Following the free reception, entrance to the exhibit is included with museum admission.
The exhibit will feature a collection of watercolor paintings as well as one area devoted to the German art form of scherenschnittes, the art of cutting paper into intricate designs. The exhibit is a celebration of the artist’s accomplishments and persistence over the last 10 years following a diagnosis of Parkinson’s. Mary’s art reflects her continued interest in still life, expressed through watercolor. She is interested in symbolism and finds it challenging to analyze complex patterns realistically. Even though the diagnosis was difficult, she has not let it stop her pursuit of art. As she says, Over time, I slowly lost strength, dexterity, and precision in my right hand. Not being a quitter by nature, I mostly feared losing my artistic ability. Art had always served as the glue that held me together. It was my identity. I was familiar with health struggles of famous artists through teaching. From Frida Kahlo, and Henri Matisse to the ever suffering Van Gogh, and the more modern Chuck Close; the arts possess healing powers. I unconsciously started to utilize my left hand. I now paint and create using my left hand exclusively. I persisted. I had persisted in finding the physical, emotional, and social support that I needed.
Mary Smeallie earned a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art at the State University of New York (Oswego), completed graduate course work in teaching at the University of Virginia and received her master’s degree from Central Connecticut State University. She is certified in Connecticut to teach art for grades K-12. She has worn many hats and tried on a few careers. She has been an advertising illustrator for a department store, a designer, a cartographer, a freelance illustrator, and creator of Portrait Dolls (a cottage industry for which she owns the copyright.)