FAIRMONT - Mary Don Kislingbury has been involved with Red Rock Center for the Arts ever since the Martin County Preservation Association began renovating the building in 2002.
In the decade since, she has carefully avoided being scheduled as artist of the month, being self-conscious about showing her work.
"I was threatened," she said with a laugh. "A close friend said she would do her show after I did mine."
Left:?Growing up on a farm in Iowa, Mary Don Kislingbury’s rural upbringing is evident in her work. She is the artist of the month for November at Red Rock Center for the Arts in Fairmont.
So Kislingbury relented, and is November's artist of the month.
Growing up on a farm in Iowa, Kislingbury's rural upbringing is evident in her work. Both her grandmother and mother were painters, and she learned to appreciate art from an early age.
"We saw beauty in modest spots," she said, paraphrasing French impressionist painter Camille Pissarro.
But it wasn't until her late 40s, when her three daughters were teenagers, that she went to school to follow her desire to paint. There she earned bachelor's and master's degrees in studio art.
Until then, she had been teaching elementary school and raising her family, but she wanted to look into expressing ideas and thoughts about life in a different way.
"I was so lucky that I had a chance to do it," she said.
Her body of work is large, according to her daughter, Mary Sue Kislingbury, and is both humorous and thought-provoking. Many of the works are oil paintings, but also include silk screen prints and three-dimensional pieces.
"You definitely get a sense of my mother and her strong sense of her roots in agriculture," Mary Sue Kislingbury said. "She sees the humorous, but uses her art to push our thinking. ... Some of her work is kind of uncomfortable."
An example of a potentially uncomfortable work is a piece featuring a young hen looking up at some plucked chickens."
"Is she thinking, are those her family? Is she thinking that will happen to her?" Mary Sue Kislingbury. "It shows some of the complexity of agriculture."
Kislingbury has shown her work at the state Capitol and as part of multi-artist shows, as well as her graduate showing to earn her degree.
A reception will be held for her 4-6 p.m. Saturday at Red Rock Center.