Mary Sims was the first woman accepted into the printmaking department at the University of Iowa, working under the master, Mauricio Lasanksy. She did further studies in Rome and at Tulane University. Sims got a teaching job at Rhodes College in the early 1970s. Then, pregnant with her daughter, she realized she could only afford the baby or her own printmaking operation. Not long after that decision she started teaching herself to paint.
Sims spent her whole life honing her craft and loving every day of art making. Her preferred subject matter was anything with eyes. For Sims the eyes were the soul, and if she was able to recreate them well the rest of the portrait was a piece of cake. Portraits, however, were a small part of her career. She’s most noted for intricate, flat, stylized still life paintings chock full of flowers, fabrics, knick-knacks and spunk. Working from meticulously built settings, Sims photographed every inch of the composition, glued the photos into a large study that she then gridded, and transferred that imagery onto a gridded canvas. Her final product was an elegantly simplified arrangement of colorful forms and textures. The paintings are very flat with nary a brush mark evident.