Mary Sixbey: A Retrospective
Opening Reception March 8, 2015
Mary Sixbey is a Midwestern woman born into a Logansport, Indiana family with diverse backgrounds and high ideals and expectations for their three daughters. Mary's mother was English who had come to Chicago to teach music and her father qualified as a Native American of the Cherokee tribe. Her father's black hair, strong set jaw and square set shoulders set him apart in Logansport where he prospered in the Hardware business and took interest in politics. All three daughters were taught music and the elder two daughters could make careers in music. Mary is today a serious music listener. She does not miss the Live From the Met Opera series on National Public Radio and she is a profound critic in discerning vocal talent.
Mary attended grade school in Logansport but was sent as a boarding student to Sayre College in Lexington, Kentucky. In those days one could graduate such a college and also teach in a grade school.
While her sisters continued musical studies, Mary's inclination in using her hands in any and every craft and her sewing of doll clothes and designing and sewing her own clothes, led Mary to Purdue University where she graduated with a Fine Arts degree.
"How did you get interested in making stained glass," I asked her? Did she hear the incomprehension in my voice? I think she told me, "Well dear, not many, nearly no one was making stained glass, and I liked the feel of glass in my hands!" Maybe she actually told me "I liked to think that I could work the glass and the lead and make something out of it. And you know ..... I loved the entire process, from artistic conception to the work in completing the piece!"
She lived with her husband and family on their farm near Lafayette, taking every opportunity for further education and international travel, with many trips to Europe; especially to Italy where one sister married and worked, and to Egypt, as we see in the exhibition, "Imagining Mary in Egypt." Mary still lives independently in Lafayette, Indiana, surrounded by art, music and friends in for tea sandwiches and generous libations. What a thrill it is to see Mary Sixbey's selected stained glass and paintings come to life on the Museum walls!