Mary Ruden is #MadeForKnoxville.

Mary is on a mission to preserve history through art. Her insightful creations–ranging from bronze busts, painted portraits, and outdoor sculptures–reveal individuals who played pivotal roles in shaping our past. 

Tennessee is rich with the stories of historical figures who should be remembered, and Mary intends to shine a light on them. She has focused particularly on the Tennessee Women Suffragists as her muses, creating life-size portraits of each of them, along with a bust of Lizzie French, a Knoxvillian women’s rights activist. 

Mary also beautifies spaces with her creations of botanical sculptures and pulls from the influences of European gardens, castles, and age-old artistic techniques. She is experienced in metal casting, bronze restoration, outdoor sculptures, and painting, and has employed her skills from Chicago and Florida to Tennessee. No matter where Mary finds herself, she brings a passion for preserving history and beautifying the spaces around her. 

“Times will be slow sometimes and deadlines can be very hard to meet. Never give up!”

In Their Own Words…

I taught art at the college level for years before becoming a full-time artist. As I began to receive steady work, I transitioned from my role as an educator to teach a broader audience about history through my artistic creations. My artwork focuses on natural subjects such as butterflies, orchids, the human form, and musical themes. 

My first large-scale, outdoor project was in Miami, Florida. called “Flamingos in Paradise.” Selected artists painted 6-foot-tall flamingo statues throughout the city, which were later auctioned for charity. I participated in this project, as well as Chicago’s “Cows on Parade,” another citywide sculpture exhibit. 


Interested in sharing your “Made for Knoxville” story? Submit here!

Read another story →