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 Mary Meigs  (1917 - 2002)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts/Quebec / Canada      Known for: landscape and portrait painting, writing

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A landscape and portrait painter, illustrator, and writer on feminist* subjects, Mary Meigs was born in Philadelphia into an upper class family.  She grew up in Washington DC, worked in Pennsylvania, but lived most of her life in Montreal, Canada.  Of her life in two countries, it was written in her obituary that "she was fully at home artistically in both official cultures."

She attended Bryn Mawr College where she later taught English literature and creative writing.  During World War II, she was a WAVE for the United States Navy.  Following that, she studied art at the Art Students League* in New York City and had her first exhibition in 1950. 

She was openly lesbian and authored three books on the subject: Lily Briscoe: A Self-Portrait (1981); The Medusa's Head (1983); The Box Closet (1987).  She had a long-term relationship with Barbara Deming, feminist crusader and civil rights activist, and the two women moved to Wellfleet, Massachusetts where they became part of a Cape Cod group of avant-garde intellectuals includng Edmund Wilson and Mary McCarthy.

Wilson introduced Meigs to Marie-Clair Blais, a Canadian writer, and they became romantically involved along with Deming.  The three of them moved to Brittany in 1972, and in 1975 to Montreal where Meigs spent the remainder of her life.  She returned to writing books, and became an active spokesperson for feminist and senior citizen issues.   "In 1991, she won a wider measure of celebrity when she appeared in Cynthia Scott's NFB film In The Company Of Strangers about a group of elderly women lost in the countryside." (Obituary)

Obituary, The Toronto Star, November 19, 2002.

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