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FILER, Mary Harris

Edmonton, Alberta, 1920
Vancouver, British Columbia, 2016
Biography synopsis
Mary Filer studied with the artist Garnet Hazard from 1939 to 1941 at the Balfour Technical School in Regina, Saskatchewan. Filer then studied nursing at Regina General Hospital from 1941 to 1944, completing her nursing degree at the Montreal Neurological Institute where she practiced from 1944 to 1946. During this period she became a part-time student of Arthur Lismer, who was teaching at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Filer subsequently studied with John Lyman in the Fine Arts Department at McGill University (1948-1950). Upon receiving her B.F.A., Filer taught at McGill University until leaving for Pennsylvania State University in 1952. There she studied Art Education with Viktor Lowenfeld and obtained her M. Ed. Filer taught at Penn State until 1955 and at New York University from 1955-1956. She subsequently moved to England, where she studied with Basil Taylor and Philip James; she also executed a series of commissions while living there. Mary Filer moved to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1967. She is known primarily for her early work as a muralist and her later large-scale glass sculptures. She holds an honorary LL.D from Simon Fraser University. Filer was also awarded a Silver Medal for Glass Design from the Royal Canadian Architectural Institute.
Media used
Glass painting and staining
Mural painting and decoration
Balfour Technical School, Regina, Saskatchewan, 1939 - 1941 (under Garnet Hazard)
Regina General Hospital, 1941 - 1944
McGill University, Neurological Institute, 1944 - 1946
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, School of Art and Design, 1944 - 1946 (under A. Lismer, Goodridge Roberts, Stanley Cosgrove, Wm. W. Armstrong, Jacques de Tonnancour, Gordon Webber and Alan Harrison)
McGill University, 1948 - 1950 (under John Lyman)
University of London, 1950 - ? (under Summer course with Basil Taylor and Philip James)
Pennsylvania State University, State College, 1952 - 1953 (under Viktor Lowenfeld and Sybil Emerson)
Contemporary Arts Society, 1945
Federation of Canadian Artists, 1944
Canadian Society of Graphic Art, 1949
Glass Art Society, Seattle, WA
British Columbia Society of Landscape Architects, Vancouver, Honourary Life Member
Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, 2005
Artists in Stained Glass, Toronto
Glass Art Association of Canada, Toronto
British Columbia Craft Association, Vancouver
British Columbia Glass Arts Association, Vancouver, Honourary Life Member
Pilchuck Society, Seattle, WA
File & Archive locations
University of Calgary Library, AB
Art Gallery of Ontario - Edward P. Taylor Research Library and Archives
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts / Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, QC
Toronto Reference Library, ON
Edmonton Art Gallery, AB - Library
Vancouver Public Library, BC - Fine Arts and History Department
Winnipeg Art Gallery, MA - Clara Lander Library
Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Documentation Centre, QC
London Public Library, ON
National Gallery of Canada, ON - Library and Archives
University of British Columbia - Fine Arts Library
Vancouver Art Gallery, BC - Library
Hamilton Public Library, ON - Local History and Archives Department
Library and Archives Canada / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, ON

Writings about
On View. London, England: Plaistow Publications, 1966
"'Picture of Month' on View Monday." Montreal Daily Star 02 Jul. 1949
"65th Spring Exhibition: Annual Show is Opened at Art Association." Toronto Star 04 Mar. 1948
"A la West End Art Gallery." (Illustration.) Le Canada 12 Oct. 1950
"An exhibition of drawings...." Montreal Star 01 Dec. 1951
"Art Classes are Announced at Weston School." Examiner (Westmount) 20 Feb. 1948
"Art Gallery Spring Show Juries Pick 119 Items From 1,400 Entries." Gazette (Montreal) 04 Mar. 1948
"Art Teaching Misses Point of True Art, Says Lecturer." Winnipeg Free Press 27 Jul. 1948
"Art Work of Former Regina Artist Shown." Leader-Post (Regina, Saskatchewan) 01 Apr. 1950
"Artist and Critic." Gazette (Montreal) 10 Sept. 1954
"Artist Mary Filer Displays Product." Peterborough Examiner (Peterborough, Ontario) 22 Feb. 1958
"Artist Mary Filer Painting Mural in J. W. McConnell Wing of the Montreal Neurological Institute." Montreal Star 1954
"Artists Arrange School Exhibition." Standard (Montreal) 23 Feb. 1946
"Canadian Artist Exhibits in London." Ottawa West End Times 07 May1958
"Canadian Artist Stages British Show." Winnipeg Free Press 15 Feb.1958
"Canadian Girl Shows Paintings in London." Ottawa Journal 24 Feb.1958
"Canadian Woman Artist Opens London Exhibition." Nelson Daily News (Nelson, British Columbia) 23 Jul. 1957
"Canadian Woman Artist Opens Show on Monday." Winnipeg Tribune 15 Apr. 1950
"Canadian Women's Art. Recent Showing Reflects Their Interest in Foreign Painting Techniques." New Liberty 29 Nov. 1947
"Cathedral's Moon Window." Canadian Churchman Toronto: Anglican Church of Canada, Sept. 1971
"Celebrating 125 Years! - RCA AGA (Annual General Assembly) 2005 in Ottawa." Canada News Wire (Ottawa) May 27 2005: 1
"Child Art and Development." Montreal Star 28 Oct. 1947
"Child Artists to Hold Show." Montreal Star 28 Mar. 1952
"Exhibition at the Imperial Institute." Studio 155 (May1958): 153
"Figures humaines, visions de hasard." La Presse (Montreal) 07 Feb. 1948
"Filer, Beder Art Works at Museum." Gazette (Montreal) 04 May 1961
"Former Reginan's Art Displayed at Library." Leader-Post (Regina, Saskatchewan) 16 Apr. 1949
"Grass-Roots Art." Time Magazine 05 Jan. 1953
"Guests attending unveiling ceremony of mural painted by Miss Mary Filer, Montreal Neurological Institute, Montreal Que. (Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis was guest of honor)." Montreal Star 15 Nov. 1954
"Illustrated Address to Be Featured." Montreal Star 10 Nov. 1951
"Impressionnante ceremonie." (Photographs) Montreal Matin 15 Nov. 1954, 32
"Into One Shining Amalgam." Gazette (Montreal) 13 Nov. 1954
"Israel to Honour Canadian Artists." Montreal Herald 12 Nov. 1951
"Junior Art Centre Begins Fall Activities." Montreal Star 27 Sept. 1949
"Mary Filer Exhibits Reveal Versatility. Oils, Watercolours, Drawings and Linocuts at West End Art Gallery." Gazette (Montreal) 07 Oct. 1950
"Mary Filer." Arts West 1.5 (1976)
"Medical Progress Unfolded in Mural." Gazette (Montreal) 13 Nov. 1954
"Miss Mary Filer..." Gazette (Montreal) 07 Oct. 1950
"Modern Art Is Interpreted. Work of Artists Discussed Before Guild." Montreal Star 07 Jan. 1947
"Modern Paintings Illustrate Talk. Miss Mary Filer Gives Interpretation of Current Art to Cathedral Guild." Montreal Gazette 07 Jan. 1947
"Moon Window." Stained Glass 89 (Fall 1994): 181
"Mural History of Neurology." Canadian Art 12.2 (winter 1955): 78-79
"Mural's Bring Gaiety to Montreal Neurological Institute." Canadian Art 5.3 (1948): 140
"Mural, Painted by Mary Filer in the J.W. McConnell Wing of the Montreal Neurological Institute, Montreal, Quebec." Montreal Star ? Nov. 1954
"National Gallery Paintings on View." Leader-Post (Regina, Saskatchewan) 08 Jan. 1952
"One Career is Not Enough; Vancouverite Likes Work." Brantford Expositor (Brantford, Ontario) 19 Jan. 1955
"Painting Not Lucrative, Local Artists Hunt Jobs." Gazette (Montreal) 03 Jul. 1952
"Paintings and Drawings by Mary Filer." Canadian Art 8.2 (Dec. 1950): 80
"Paintings and Drawings, Exhibition at the West End Gallery in Montreal." Canadian Art 8.2 (1950): 80
"Premier Unveils Mural." Montreal Star 15 Nov. 1954, 27, 33
"Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis at Unveiling Ceremony of Mural Painted by Miss Mary Filer, Montreal Neurological Institute, Montreal, Quebec." Montreal Star 15 Nov. 1954
"Regina Artist Has London Show." Leader-Post (Regina, Saskatchewan) 15 Feb. 1958
"Replace Show of Paintings." Daily Colonist (Victoria, British Columbia) 07 Mar. 1950
"Seven Exhibits During January at City Gallery." British Columbian Weekly (New Westminster, British Columbia) 09 Jan. 1950
"She Wants to Adorn a Church With Murals." Kent Messenger (Kent, England) 08 Jul. 1966, 5
"The Anguish of Decision (mural)." Montreal Star 25 Jul. 1953
"Their Names Spell Talent in Two Artistic Mediums." Province (Vancouver) 23 Jan. 1961
"Third Showing in England for Canadian." Toronto Globe & Mail 22 Feb.1958
"Tip Sheet: Lectures and Other Events of Interest." Gazette (Montreal) 3 May 2001: D6
"Vancouver Art Teacher Holding Second Exhibition." Lethbridge Herald (Lethbridge, Alberta) 02 Dec. 1957
"Variety in Offerings Marks CAS Exhibition." Gazette (Montreal) 07 Feb. 1948
"Women's Works on Exhibit." Montreal Standard 02 Apr. 1949
"Young Canadian Artist Brings Paints and Brushes on Her Victorian Vacation." Victoria Daily Times (Victoria, British Columbia) 14 Aug. 1951
Photograph of mural at Montreal Neurological Institute. Medecine pour tous 8 (Dec.16-23, 1968): Cover
Photograph of murals in St. Luke's Church, London. Times (London) 17 Oct. 1960
Adams, Ann Marie. "Agency and Architecture in Medical Murals by Mary Filer and Marian Dale Scott." Design and Agency:Critical Perspectives on Identities, Perspectives and Practices. Edited by J. Potvine and Marie-Eve Marchand Marchand. New York: Bloomsbury, 2020
Amos, Robert. "Our Finest Work of Art: 00." Times-Colonist (Victoria) 30 Jan. 2000: B12
Anderson, Janice. Creating Room: Canadian Women Mural Painters and Rereadings of the Public and the Private. Montreal: Concordia University, 2002
Antaki, Karen. Montreal Women Artists of the 1950's. Montreal: Concordia Art Gallery, 1988
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. "Mary Filer: Glass Sculpture. Exhibition Sept. 18 - Oct. 07, 1973." Bulletin of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria 1973
Art Gallery of Ontario. The Canadian Collection. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Co. of Canada, 1970
Ayer, Judith. "Secret Substance Used by Painter for Church Windows." Truro Weekly News 23 Feb. 1961
Ayre, Robert. "Art Notes. Mary Filer's Work in Progress." Montreal Star 28 Aug. 1954
Ayre, Robert. "Filer's Canada Depicts Expanse." Montreal Star 21 Apr. 1970
Ayre, Robert. "Mural Work by Mary Filer Shows Power." Montreal Star 25 Jul. 1953
Ayre, Robert. "The Return of Mary Filer." Montreal Star 06 May 1961
Ayre, Robert. "Vigorous Works by Montrealers on Exhibition." Montreal Daily Star 07 Apr. 1951: 24
Boeckh, Sherry. "The New Sculpture." Financial Post Magazine (Dec. 1976): 26
Bullas Furniture Store. Canadian Women Artists' Exhibition: Nov. 18-29, 1947. Kitchener, Ontario: 1947
Cash, Gwen. "Accent on Life: Victoria's Mary Filer." Victorian (Victoria) 21 Jun. 1972
Cote, Langevin. "Premier Praises Hospital Benefactors." Gazette (Montreal) 15 Nov. 1954, 3
Duranceau, Mimi. "The Daily Meets: Mary Harris Filer." McGill Daily 04 Nov. 1949
Duval, Paul. Canadian Drawings and Prints. Toronto: Burns & MacEachern, 1952
E.L.R. "In the Art Gallery." Winnipeg Free Press 15 Apr. 1950
Forster. Michael. "Mary Filer, Pegi Nicol Exhibitions Planned." Standard (Montreal) 16 Sept. 1950
Forster. Michael. "Works by Mary Filer, R. Gravel Are Shown." Standard (Montreal) 14 Oct. 1950
Gallant, Mavis. "Window Artist." Montreal Standard 31 Jan. 1948, 3
Glass Art Gallery. Studio Glass in North America, 1962-1982. Toronto: Glass Art Gallery, 1982
Godfrey, Stephen. "Blueprints For a City, Past and Future Forums and Exhibits Fill New Urbanarium as Planners and Public Get In On the Act." Globe and Mail (Toronto) 15 Oct. 1987: D1
Hack, Sylvia. "Paintings of Canadian Artist Are Shown in a London Pub." Winnipeg Tribune Manitoba: 30 Jul. 1957
Hill, Harriet. "Facts & Fancies." Gazette (Montreal) 11 Nov. 1967
Himel, Susan and Elaine Lambert. "ART IN CRAFT: 'Slipcasting' Gives Clay Unusual Look." Globe and Mail (Toronto) 9 Oct. 1980: T7
Himel, Susan and Elaine Lambert. "ART IN CRAFT: Silk, Jewels Share Spotlight." Globe and Mail (Toronto) 15 Apr. 1982: P22
Himel, Susan and Elaine Lambert. "ART IN CRAFT: Two Artists Look Into Glass as Art." Globe and Mail (Toronto) 30 Oct. 1980: T9
Himel, Susan; Lambert, Elaine. "Allons voir nos vaillants verriers/Molding Visions in Molten Glass." En Route 9.3 (Mar. 1981): 12-15,52,55-56, etc.
Hossie, Helen. "Glass Sculpture Reflects Artist." Victoria Colonist 19 Sept. 1973
Johnson-Dean, Christina. The Life and Art of Mary Filer Salt Spring Island, BC: Mother Tongue Publishing Limited, 2016
Kritzwiser, Kay. "Light and Rhythms of Sea and Sky." Globe and Mail (Toronto) 4 Nov. 1975: 17
Lambton, Gewnda. "A Collaboration in Ottawa: The Saint-Vincent Hospital Mural A Collaboration in Ottawa: The Saint-Vincent Hospital Mural." Woman's Art Journal 13.1 (Spring-Summer 1992)
Laurence, Robin. "Mary Filer: Neuressence." Artichoke 15.4 (2003): 32
Lynn, Shirley. "Work and Hobby Interlocked for Artist-Nurse-Teacher." Vancouver Province 1955 Jan. 06
MacDonald, Colin S. The Dictionary of Canadian Artists. (Volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker) Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 2009.
Mays, John Bentley. "A Full Dance Card for Art." Globe and Mail (Toronto) 10 Sept. 1988: C17
McFadden, Barbara. "Canadian Scene Depicted in Aerial View Paintings." Victoria Times 21 Jul. 1970
McKissock, Flora. "Make It a Date." Vancouver Sun 20 Jan. 1950
Montreal Neurological Institute. Prospect and Retrospect in Neurology: Second Foundation Volume. Pub. for the Staff, to Commemorate the Opening of the McConnell Wing and the Second Foundation of the Montreal Neurological Institute. Boston: Little, Brown, 1955
Norbury, F.H. "Curious Art Work Shown in Museum." Edmonton Journal 16 Dec. 1949
Palette. "In the Realm of Art. Mary Filer Modern; Her Work Never Dull." Vancouver Daily Province 14 Jan. 1950
Pfeiffer, Dorothy. "Gallery XII." Gazette (Montreal) 13 May 1961
Pogue, Liz. "New View for Cathedral." Times-Colonist (Victoria) 11 Jan. 1997: 1
Rogers, Marjorie. "Artists Paints Self in Mural." Montreal Star 07 Aug. 1954
Schwartz, Marjorie. "She's Painting Way to Top by 'Trying to Be Herself.' " Vancouver Sun 26 Aug. 1947
Solyom, Catherine. "The Other Penfield Honoured: Helen Was 'Heart' of the Neuro. She Made Every Visiting Scientist Welcome at Institute Founded by Her Husband." Gazette (Montreal) 12 Oct. 2002: A7
Thieme, Ulrich and Felix Becker. Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart. Leipzig, Germany: E. A. Seamans, 1962
Thornton, Mildred Valley. "Marked Inequalities in Gallery Exhibit." Sun (Vancouver) 14 Jan. 1950
Trépanier, Esther. Marian Dale Scott: Pioneer of Modern Art. Québec: Musée du Québec, 2000

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