Portrait drawing demo at GCA Open Studio 2014. Photo by Mariana Hernandez-Rivera.

  • w-flickr

(b. 1983) MARY JANE WARD grew up in Eugene, Oregon. She lives in Columbus, Ohio.


Mary Jane studied Ballet at the Eugene School of Ballet and The University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She went on to dance professionally from 2003-2012, with various companies including The Eugene Ballet Company/Ballet Idaho, Ballet West, Drop Dance Collective, Jojo Moving Service, Ballet Memphis, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, and Gleich Dances. She was awarded a Professional Development Grant by the Idaho Commission on the Arts in 2009, to attend the Northwest Professional Dance Project.


Moving to New York in 2010 marked Mary Jane's transition away from full time dancing, as she took on freelance dance work and began working on more diverse arts and performance projects. She worked closely with Director/Choregrapher Celia Rowlson-Hall on short videos, both acting and assisting behind the scenes.


In 2011, Mary Jane met NY based artist Amery Kessler, through Norte Maar's collaborative performance, In the Use of Others for the Change. They began collaborating shortly thereafter. In November 2012 Mary Jane assisted on Amery's art piece Drum Casket USA, which was awarded Fiscal Sponsorship from the New York Foundation for the Arts. This US tour of his piece, Drum Casket, took place in August and September 2013. Mary Jane and Amery drove Drum Casket to 26 different US cities, from New York to California and facilitated interactive Drum Casket sessions for hundreds people nationwide.


In 2012, Mary Jane began studying classical drawing and painting at the Grand Central Academy of Art in New York City. In 2013 she was awarded the First Year Scholarship to join The Water Street Atelier, now called The Grand Central Atelier. She continued her study there under Jacob Collins until moving from New York To Ohio in 2015. She currently teaches at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center, and out of her home studio in Columbus, OH. Her studio practice is currently largely devoted to drawing and painting portraits from life and landscape drawings and paintings from direct observation.

photo by Amery Kessler

Teaching a drawing workshop at TAMUK, 2013. Photo by Amery Kessler.


2013-2015  The Grand Central Atelier (previously The Water Street Atelier)

2012-2013 Grand Central Academy

2002-2003 The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (ballet)


2017 Mary Jane Ward, Flux + Flow Dance and Movement Center Gallery, Columbus, OH

2017 Recent Landscapes, Griffin Gallery, Gahanna, OH



2019 Creating Identity From Place, Southern Ohio Museum, Portsmouth, OH

2018 Spirit of the Season, Keny Galleries, Columbus, OH

2018 Small Works Show, 934 Gallery, Columbus OH

2018 Creating Identity From Place, Riffe Gallery, Columbus, OH

2018 Ohio Art League Fall Juried Show, Shot Tower Gallery, Columbus, OH

2017 Artists' View: The Highlands Nature Sanctuary, Turner Studio & Gallery, Columbus, OH

2017 Highlands Nature Sanctuary Artists in Residence, Mary Jane Ward, Carolyn Heffelfinger & Jon Browning, Appalachian Forest Museum, Bainbridge, OH

2017 2 paintings, Best of The Ohio Plein Air Society 2017, Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH

2016 3 paintings, Wrap Me Up, Winter Small Works Show, Eleventh Street Arts, Long Island City, NY

2016 2 paintings, Parks en Plein Air, The Springfield Museum of Art, Springfield, OH

2016 "Self Portrait, March 2015", Novas Histories, The Ohio Art League, Urban Arts Space, Columbus, OH

2015 2 paintings, The Art Spot, Minerva, OH

2015 3 works, The Art Spot, Minerva, OH

2015 3 paintings, Ai Fiori, Eleventh Street Arts, Long Island City, NY

2015 2 portrait drawings, Inaugural Group Show, Eleventh Street Arts, Long Island City, NY

2014 selected drawings and paintings, End of Year Exhibition, Grand Central Atelier, New York, NY

2014 5 drawings, The Grand Central Atelier Open Studio Night, New York, NY

2013 "Fern in Grisaille", "Fern in Ochre" Portraits of Fern, Norte Maar, Brooklyn, NY

2013 "Santiago" and "Untitled (Male hand with pole)" The Grand Central Academy and Water Street Atelier Open Studio Night, New York, NY

2012 7 documentary photographs of Drum Casket in Bamako The First Linzhou, China International Friendship & Peace Arts Festival, Linzhou, China

2011 4 portraits, Boys of Bushwick, Norte Maar, Brooklyn, NY

2010 "V is for Vest" Portraits, The Backroom, Storefront Gallery, Brooklyn, NY


2017 Supply Grant, Artists in the Community Award, Greater Columbus Arts Council, Columbus, OH

2017 Professional Development Grant, Greater Columbus Arts Council, Columbus, OH

2017 Artist in Residence, Highlands Nature Sanctuary, Arc of Appalachia, Bainbridge, OH

2015 The Hudson River Fellowship

2014 Cast Drawing Award, The Water Street Atelier

2013 First Year Scholarship, The Water Street Atelier

2009 Professional Development Grant, The Idaho Commission on the Arts



2017 (ongoing) Landscape Painting Studio, Cultural Arts Center, Columbus, OH

2016 (ongoing/seasonal) Plein Air Studies, Cultural Arts Center, Columbus, OH

2016 (ongoing) Drawing & Painting the Portrait, Cultural Arts Center, Columbus, OH

2016 Go Figure: Figure Drawing Workshop, Ohio Arts Council's Riffe Gallery, Columbus, OH

2013 Introduction to Bargue Technique, one day drawing workshop, Texas A&M University Kingsville, TX

2009-2010 Intermediate/Advanced Ballet Technique, House of Talent, Memphis, TN

2009-2010 Pre-Pointe Ballet Technique, House of Talent, Memphis, TN