Mary Hiester Reid was a prolific Canadian painter and teacher who was best known for her floral still lifes. But after her death in 1921, her legacy and art all but vanished from the public sphere. Discovering her work for the first time at the Art Gallery of Ontario, poet and biographer Molly Peacock began working on a biography of Reid's life and art called Flower Diary: Mary Hiester Reid Paints, Travels, Marries & Manages a Threesomeavailable now from ECW Press. Find out more about Mary Hiester Reid, her work and legacy, below.
She left a door ajar, slipping through a threshold into the almost impossible-to-balance world of love and art. Over three hundred paintings and a lifelong commitment to a partner: she’s one of the artists from the past who made it possible to live and love in the present. Often, we who look for models of creativity learn the names of those who banged down doors and wrecked their own and others’ lives. But she, who mined a rich and unconventional interior life while clothed in discreet propriety, turned the handle more quietly. And handle is a word that belongs to this woman who made still lifes like diary pages and landscapes like dream logs. She planned and coped, sized up situations, then seized moments, managing a subtle ménage with her painter husband and their talented student in a stiff society, all the while making five transatlantic journeys and creating some of the most devastatingly expressive works you’ve likely never seen, signing them Mary Hiester Reid.
Molly Peacock is a poet, biographer, essayist, and writer of tales whose multi-genre literary life has taken her from New York City to Toronto, from poetry to prose, from words to words-and-pictures, and from lyric self-examination to curiosity about the lives of others.
All Lit Up is produced by the Literary Press Group and LitDistCo. LPG and LitDistCo acknowledge the financial support of the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Ontario Arts Council.
All views expressed by bloggers and contributors to the All Lit Up blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of All Lit Up or the Literary Press Group.
All Lit Up acknowledges we are hosted on the lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat. We also recognize the enduring presence of all First Nations, Métis and the Inuit people, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to meet and work on this territory.