Mary M. Soniat attended North Texas State University and the University of New Orleans, with further education through self-teaching. In New Orleans, Soniat’s gallery associations include Wyndy Morehead Fine Arts, Contemporary Arts Center, Richard Russell Gallery, Bergen Galleries, Teri Galleries, Bella Nola, Galerie Severn and Expressions Gallery. Through the years, Soniat’s WORKS have appeared in a number of publications, AMERICAN ARTIST MAGAZINE, NEW ORLEANS MAGAZINE, BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS, DOLL WORLD MAGAZINE, and DOLL READER MAGAZINE. In June of 1996, FRANK DAVIS featured Soniat and her artwork on WWL-TV NEWS for his report called, “NATURALLY N’AWLINS.”
In the last 40 years, Soniat has been honing her skills with many different art forms, through such media as oils, acrylics, pen and ink, oil base clay, porcelain, plaster, paper, wood, leather, fabric, furniture design, photography, video, words, as well as, water coloring traditional antique engravings. Soniat’s abilities and subject matter are diverse, expanding a range from abstract to representational as in either 3 dimensional forms or as expressed in paintings on canvas. In recent years, Soniat added another tool of creativity to her palette from altering photographs to creating original art in the computer. Soniat wrote and illustrated a children’s book that is dedicated to her grandchildren and most recently submitted to a publisher.
Another of Soniat’s specialties is painting abstract expressionism, color matching and custom work with texture. In the fall of 2004, she was commissioned to paint artwork for the newly built Jefferson Parish General Government Building in Gretna. The artwork, a triptych titled “Progression,” is comprised of three 4’ X 4’ textured paintings 12’ in total width and is located in the waiting area across from the Council Chambers Auditorium on the Second Floor.
Also, in 2006 Soniat worked with renowned mural artist, Nick Crowell to design and paint a mural for the New Orleans Welcome Center on Basin Street featuring, Canal Street in the 30’s and 40’s.
Soniat included her full-married name, SONIAT du FOSSAT, in signing her portrait work, but continues to sign her abstract expressionist work, SONIAT.
In 2007, she was commissioned to paint retired Louisiana State Judge Jerome Winsberg which hangs in the Criminal Court building at 2700 Tulane Avenue. Also, in January 2008, Soniat painted another portrait commission for the late Judge Patrick Quinlan which will also hang in the hallowed halls of the Criminal Court Building. The portrait of Judge Quinlan was featured in the background of an episode of HBO’s, Treme last fall in the third season, episode 10. Since then Soniat has painted 3 more judges.
In the artist’s words: “I taught myself to paint with books of examples. I already knew how to draw… had been doing that all my life. I had been painting for 10 years at that time. After painting the Native Woman, I decided to stop painting realism and for the next 15 years I only painted abstracts. The reason was I couldn’t understand how I knew what to do and realism was hard to paint. My mother was very disappointed. When my twin granddaughters were born in ’93… they turned me around and to my mother’s pleasure I began to paint portraits again!”