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Meet Mary J. Saran of Mary Saran Fine Art in Lakeview and North Center

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mary J. Saran.

Mary was born in Downers Grove, Illinois. She studied her Masters of Art in Art Education at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and recently completed an artist residency at the Chicago Art Department in Pilsen. She also received a Bachelor’s in Art & Design and minored in Art History at Columbia College Chicago. She lived in NYC and Brooklyn for 5 years after college, worked in art galleries and has continued to exhibit art nationally. After graduate school, she would like to start her own gallery and help build the Chicago art scene and community through traveling open call exhibitions. Mary started her own company Mary Saran Fine Art, LLC in 2014 and has been making commission paintings for clients as a way to grow her art business. Her mixed media art practice often involves collaboration as a top priority, yet she can’t ignore her passion for curating, design and education. Saran has held teaching assistant positions while in school at SAIC and is currently seeking new business and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Everyone has their own individual journey and battle in the creative world. Mine is different than yours, don’t compare yourself to other artists. Instead learn from them, become inspired, keep your ego in check, connect and maybe even collaborate and share authorship. As humans we deal with rejection frequently, as artists we deal with rejection on a daily basis. Show up, do the work and apply. It’s complicated to try to stay positive sometimes and keep making the work. I often like to have multiple projects in the works at the same time. I’ve been an artist all my life, I began to experiment and evolve more in high school. After college, once I started taking myself seriously so did my peers, family and friends. Yet at times, I still feel like a tortured starving artist. Sales and projects come in waves. Either I find myself stuck on a project or having too many things going on a once. I constantly struggle with artists becoming brands, I’m trying to embrace the tech and design side of art. When my heart still lies in the fine art world. Maybe I have doppelgänger of myself is thieving in the 1970s who knows?

Mary Saran Fine Art – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The past few years, I have been selling my art and creating custom commission pieces for offices and homes. My main solo exhibition was recently in June of 2017 at Amos Eno Gallery in Brooklyn, NY. I’m in the process of promoting my work on more online databases and platforms. My 2nd website has been a start to a new digital collaborative portfolio. I also, am currently working with Christie Chew-Wallace and Joe Campos on an exhibition called SOS – Show of Shows. The exhibition will be opening at C, C.’s Art Garage and Gallery in Bridgeport Friday, Sept 28th from 6-9PM. I am curating the project and will be also showing artworks. We partnered with EXPO Chicago which is exciting opportunity and have overlapping events during that upcoming weekend. My work more recently is gearing towards coordinating exhibitions and workshops that bring artists and the public together. SOS is a community local art fair, which is exactly the type of work I want to be doing in the future. Nonetheless, I have worked in various gallery setting over the years in New York and Chicago, have teaching experience and utilize those skills as a way to also make money. Nonetheless, I’m currently looking for new opportunities so again the journey continues.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
1. Selling my first large painting.
2. My “Escape Earth” Solo Show June 2017 being listed on ArtForum
3. “Collaborative Collisions” SAIC Thesis Exhibition at C,C.’S Art Garage & Gallery.
4. Partnering with EXPO Chicago for “SOS-Show of Shows” this coming Sept.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Alison Annear, Alex Valinsky, Janet Saran, Mary J. Saran

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.


  1. CATHY Pruim

    August 30, 2018 at 2:23 am

    So proud of you Mary! Your work is beautiful! Follow your dreams!

  2. Marla Annear

    August 30, 2018 at 1:26 pm

    I’m proud to own one of your beautiful creations. Keep living your dream

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