On July 18, 2017, Mary Florence MacDonald, 32, originally of Pictou, Nova Scotia passed away after a long illness in St. John’s, NL. Born in Truro, NS, September 10, 1984, Mary was loving daughter to Jim and Carol, thoughtful and kind sister to Andrew (Melissa) and Anna Kate (Colin), and fun and inspiring aunt to Rory, Myra, Grace, and Sadie. Mary is a graduate of Pictou Academy (2002) and Mount Allison University in Sackville, NB (BFA, 2006). After art gallery internships in both NB (Owens) and NS (Zwickers), Mary moved her life to Newfoundland and Labrador in 2008.
Mary was a pivotal community leader in Newfoundland and Labrador and an active member of the Atlantic Canadian arts community. Her friends and her artistic community considered themselves honoured and privileged that Mary made St. John’s her home.
Mary left Newfoundland for a short period to study in Toronto at OCAD, gaining a Curatorial MFA and specializing in rural art and community (2012). She returned to NL to be the Executive Director for Eastern Edge Gallery from 2012 to 2015. During this period Mary dauntlessly led over a hundred events, exhibitions, workshops, and summer festivals with local, national, and international artists. Mary’s dedication was recognized by ARTINFO listing her in Canada’s 30 Under 30. Many people, from all sectors, felt accepted, supported, and inspired within Eastern Edge under Mary’s Directorship and broad welcome.
From 2015 onwards, Mary pursued interests in Newfoundland identity, rural art practice and alternative locations for contemporary art through her writing and curatorial career. She was a freelance writer for The Overcast, The Rooms, Visual Arts News, C Magazine, CUSS and others. With warmth, positivity and her straightforward approach, she set the standard for community leadership and advocacy for the arts. Mary’s passions were broad, and her inclusive approach brought different communities together. She used her kick ass administrative skills to co-found Girls Rock NL, and assisted many other not-for-profits on various committees, panel discussions and projects. Mary was also a strong force in the establishment of Flotilla, an arts festival happening September 2017 in Prince Edward Island. Her love for cultural community has had an impact that runs far, wide and deep.
Mary’s legacy lives in the family she loved, friends she brought together, the communities she strengthened, and the art she made, inspired, and helped to be understood. She has set a standard for greatness that we can all follow.
The family want to extend a grateful thank you to the doctors and nurses at the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Centre and the Dr. Leonard A. Miller Centre who, under the direction of Dr. Brent Tompkins and Dr. Cathy Popadiuk, treated Mary with kind and compassionate care. The family wish to thank the champions of Team Mary: Philippa Jones, Candace Fulford, Martin Poole, John Weber, and Jenina MacGillivray. These friends orchestrated a network of care and love that took care of Mary until and beyond her final moments. There will be a joyous celebration of Mary’s life in early September in St. John’s, NL.
In honour of Mary, contributions can be made to The Mary MacDonald Foundation, which will support independent curatorial projects. Cheques can be made out to Eastern Edge Gallery with notation that it is for the foundation. Online donations can made here: https://www.canadahelps.org/dn/6469.