Mara Manning



My work is about a sense of place, a vague memory of being there. Encoding is the crucial first step to creating a new memory. It allows the perceived item of interest to be converted into a construct that can be stored in the brain. My paintings are visual constructs that seek to make time visible.  Whether driving by in a car or moving in other forms of transportation, we pay attention to our environment in momentary glimpses. If a memory was laid down then these “sights” remain in our subconscious having been converted into a construct. I use sketches and photographs to inspire my work but the paintings develop through a process which is largely organic. If I start with a specific plan in mind composition, color and a process of additive and subtractive actions are what actually develop the final work. I look for tension between shapes and colors. I also look to create humor in the shapes and compositions I develop.



Lesley University, Cambridge, MA , Master of Arts in Education, December, 1998

University of Wisconsin Green Bay. Teacher Certification Program - Art Education License, December 1993

University of Wisconsin Milwaukee - BFA Painting and Drawing, December 1984

Adjunct Art Instructor - Bay College, Escanaba Mi  Fall 2018

Art Instructor  - Ashwaubenon High School 1993-2016



The District Gallery

Knoxville, TN


Cappaert Contemporary

Egg Harbor, WI


eclectic Gallery

226 Elk Ave

Crested Butte, CO 81224

Higher Art Gallery

126 S. Union St.

Traverse City, MI



Merit Award, Miller Art Museum 43rd Juried Annual Exhibition

Featured Artist Exhibition Award, Northern Exposure XXIV, Escanaba, MI  2017

Donor Award, 30th Annual NNAC Juried Exhibition, Rhinelander, WI  2017

Bonifas Art Center, Northern Exposure 2013. Purchase Prize Award.  2nd Place Award

Bonifas Art Center, Northern Exposure 2008. Purchase Prize Award



Northern Exposure XXV. Bonifas Art Center, Escanaga MI 2018

43rd Annual Miller Art Museum Juried Exhibition. Sturgeon Bay, WI 2018

Thirty-First Annual Northern National Art Competition. Nicolet College, Rhinelander, WI 2018

ArtPrize 10, Grand Rapids, MI 2018

Morpho Gallery 7th Annual Juried Encaustic Exhibition. Chicago, IL. 2018

Hardy Gallery 56 Annual Juried Exhibit. Ephraim, WI 2018

Water and Wax Invitational, Cappaert Contemporary, Egg Harbor, WI  2018

Northern Exposure XXIV. Escanaba, MI  2017

Art Comes Alive, Art and Design Consultants Juried Exhibition. Cincinnati, OH 2017

Miller Art Museum Juried Exhibition. Sturgeon Bay, WI  2017

30th Annual NNAC Juried Exhibition. Nicolet College, Rhinelander, WI  2017

Hardy Gallery 55th Annual Juried Exhibit. Ephraim, WI. 2017

Art Prize, DeVos Place. Grand Rapids, MI. 2016

Northern Exposure XVIII, Bonifas Art Center.  Escanaba, MI. 2013

Wisconsin Painters and Sculptors Juried Biennial, Rahr-West Art Museum, Manitowoc, WI.  2009

Northern Exposure XII, Bonifas Art Center, Escanaba, MI  2008

In the Balance. Juried Exhibition. Walker’s Point Center for the Arts. Milwaukee, WI - 2000



Remixing Dreams: Paintings by Mara Manning. Telluride Arts HQ, Telluride CO. March 2018

FLASH. Mara Manning at Mr. Helsinki. Fish Creek, WI. 2011

Mara Manning at the Hartwig Gallery. Bay College. Escanaba, MI. 2009

MIAD. Creative Educators Inst. Exhibit. Milwaukee, WI 2000









Artist Statement

My work is about a sense of place, a vague memory of being there, and how the passage of time can change a place.  I find myself gravitating to a simple house, boat or building shape as the subject of my paintings.  Houses, farm buildings and warehouses have always sparked my storytelling imagination. I see personalities, expressions, and faces in buildings that I take photos of and record in sketchbooks. By layering the buildings or using the shape individually I am able to conjure a feeling of place for me and the viewer. We may not see the same place in the piece but it brings about an immediate reaction, often a “naming” of where the scene is located. I am working within a shallow space just as a memory is sort of shallow or 2 dimensional. Something you can't quite grasp but you can feel it. 

I am painting with wax media because it allows me to explore a richness in layers, color and textures using a variety of tools and handmade templates. I have almost left my brushes behind, gravitating toward palette knives and other tools that let me layer, scrape and draw on the surface.  I excavate into previous layers and really exploit the versatility of the medium by pushing its textural qualities. My process explores the painting surface as I expose or mask particular layers and colors. I look to the history of art to inform my color schemes, specifically the Dutch Baroque period,  I love the richness and saturation found in works from that era. Recently though I have been drawn to brighter colors.  Compositionally,  I use a loose grid to provide a setting in which I can nestle, scratch, print or draw building type shapes. I use commercial and hand cut paper stencils to place some of the forms on the surface. I use a scraper or razor blade to remove or blur other aspects of the work.  I use pigment sticks and oil pastels to add fine lines or other marks.  The work, when dry is burnished to create a soft luster on the surface where the wax is the thickest.  I hope you enjoy them and find your own place in the imagery.

Artist Biography

Mara is a UW Milwaukee graduate with a BFA in Painting and Drawing. She earned her teaching certificate as an Art Educator from UW-Green Bay and received a Master of Arts in Education from Lesley University. Some of her early influences as an artist included instruction and vision from Leslie Vansen, Adolph Rosenblatt, Tom Uttecht, Bill Williams and Laurence Rathsack.

Mara’s current studio is in her home with a view of lake Michigan, her muse. She recently retired from a 24 year career teaching art at Ashwaubenon High School. Mara has a long history as a painter. Her early memories include a figurative painting in 7th grade.  As an undergrad in Milwaukee, Mara and artist friends ran a pop up gallery space called Verge. They caught the attention of local media and were covered in the press on several occasions. Exhibits at Verge were exciting happenings and included input from local artists of all kinds. After leaving Milwaukee Mara spent some time in the Brooklyn NY in an up and coming neighborhood called Dumbo. Here, with some of the artist’s from Verge and the addition of new friends she was able to continue her painting and participation with the alternative arts scene during the late 1980’s.

Following the birth of twin sons she and her family moved back to Wisconsin to the Green Bay area so they could raise their boys and pursue careers in education. During this time Mara continued to paint and make connections in the art community in Green Bay. Mara is now pursuing her work at a professional level. She is actively seeking to grow her audience online and in galleries.

Mara’s exhibition resume includes purchase prize awards in several juried exhibitions as well as a 2nd place overall in the Northern Exposure exhibit at the Bonifas Art Center in Escanaba MI in 2012. Mara has had solo shows at the Hartwig Gallery at Bay College in Escanaba and at Mr Helsinki in Fish Creek. Her painting has been included in several Wisconsin Painters and Sculptors juried exhibitions. Most recently Mara’s work exhibited at the Juried exhibition at the Hardy Gallery in Ephriam, WI.  Mara’s work has been collected by Bay College and community members from Escanaba, Manitowoc, Door County, Beloit WI, New York state, NYC,  Texas, Colorado and San Diego CA.