Renaissance Woman

Maroon Oak Influencer Mary Shay

For Mary, Art wasn’t just an interest or even a passion; it was her calling. And her resume as rich and diverse as the Italian Masters whose art she has made her life’s work. Still, for her, family came first.

With a BA in Fine Art and after a Master’s degree in Italian Renaissance Art History she moved from Colorado to New York City, to work at Christie’s Art and Appraisals Department, managing their VIP clients.

When the lure of learning beckoned, she started her Ph.D at Rutgers University in Italian Renaissance Art History in 2002. Alongside, she continued to work as a Research Assistant at the famed Metropolitan Museum of Art and at Rutgers University teaching numerous courses as a Teacher’s Assistant. She was also a Fellow at the Met and the Kress Foundation, apart from stints at several other Museums and Auction Houses in the Greater New York area.

When her boys were born 2 years apart, each time Mary took a year off her academic and work engagements and continued to make motherhood her main priority as they grew older. It took her 12 years, but she completed her Ph.D in 2014.

“Just keep plugging away at your goal, she says, “and try not to be discouraged as you watch former (often younger) colleagues move ahead while you take time to care for your children.  In the end those same people will envy the time you spent with your family and you will catch up if you stay active in your career, even part time.”

Since then, she has written an essay for a major museum exhibition catalog, she’s teaching an Art History survey course at Montclair State University, NJ, and is active in Professional Art Associations. But Mary is not willing to stop there – future plans include starting her own business, which she believes  will “fuse my knowledge of art and antiques with my passion for creating beautiful spaces using a mixture of modern and antique art & objects.”

Despite her accomplishments, her sons, now 8 & 6, continue to be center stage in her life along with her two Brussels Griffons. A hands-on mother, she is also very involved in volunteering at her kids’ schools and working on the parent boards.

Her career advice to other Moms – “Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself, and choose to do something you love!”

  1. 8 years ago

    WOw. It took a pretty long time but you still stuck with your plans and completed the PH.D.

  2. Maroon Oak Author
    Maroon Oak 8 years ago

    Great article and much needed as so many wonder if they can still be successful in the workplace.

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