Mary Coleman was born in Portland Oregon in 1983. She was raised in an artistic family, but her goal from a young age was to become an epidemiologist. As she grew older, it became apparent her strengths lay in painting and not in medical science. In order to retain both passions she chose to pursue fine art and create work with strong ties to medicine, in particular images exploring the history of infectious disease.
In 2006 Mary moved abroad to New Zealand, where she lived for 11 years. From 2008 until 2011 she attended Elam School of Arts in Auckland, New Zealand. A few years after graduation, Mary went on to obtain a Master of Art and Design at Auckland University of Technology. She completed the program in 2015. Her painting series, Beneath the Skin, started as part of her postgraduate thesis.
From 2013 until she departed New Zealand in April of 2017, Mary volunteered at The Northland Medical Museum. Her experiences there, and constant access to the museum library, fueled much of the content of her paintings. She also benefited from working with retired medical professionals who were always eager to share their experiences and knowledge. Mary was able to contribute her own knowledge of infectious disease by creating entire displays on the topic.
Mary moved back to Portland as of April of 2017. She is continuing to paint and is volunteering at NAMI. When she is not in the art studio, Mary enjoys reading books on medical history and maintains a blog dedicated to the topic. She currently lives in Portland with her husband and pets.