Mary Ellen Raneri is a graduate of Seton Hill College, with a master’s degree from Purdue University. After she retired from public education, she attended Westmoreland Community College for art. Mary especially enjoys working with textiles, watercolor, and oils. She taught French and Writing Workshop for 30 years, and taught composition at a nearby community college. Later, she coached teachers in her school district.
Published in Reminisce magazine and NEA’s, This Active Life, Mary also enjoys writing a column for Hometown magazine.
In March 2020, Mary Ellen and her late mother and inspiration, Lucy Pollock, began Baking with Lucy, a live-streamed cooking show on Facebook. They co-authored the cookbook, Baking with Lucy in Her Cozy Kitchen: A Collection of 222 Recipes. In addition, Mary authored another cookbook: Homegrown Memories, A Collection of Stories and Recipes- with Love from Lucy, Mike and Mary. The Baking with Lucy show continues to air on Sundays on Facebook. Mary resides in Latrobe, Pa with her husband, Phil, and their two wiener dogs, Lilly, and Alfredo.
My art is my visual memoir. The remembrances of my mother, my grandmother, my family, and my childhood, all make up the collection of work I have produced in fabric, watercolor and oil.
These days, I often work with cotton, silk or roving wool. I enjoy dying fabric –usually from repurposed material or used cloth and doilies. Some of my projects are quite large and are sewn by hand. Typically, they reflect a personal experience or a cherished person, place, or thing. I particularly enjoy sewing and batiking because it reminds me of childhood summer projects I used to do with my mother. My roving wool creations are very organic and focus on plants and scenes from my mother’s garden, my grandmother’s arbor, and my childhood. I especially enjoy constructing 3-D work with roving wool and silk on top of a 2-d background. It’s sort of like a soft sculpture with wool and fabric.
When I paint, I gravitate to watercolor or oil, and I enjoy doing portraits, especially of my mother and my family. I cherish the scenes and objects that were part of my childhood. Gram’s old grape arbor frequently is represented in my art using different media. Memories of blueberries, farmland near my home, fresh vegetables from our garden, baking, and sewing doodads all find a place in my creations.
When I reflect on my art, I think of my mother so much. She taught me how to sew, to dye cloth, to paint, and to create things out of pieces of fabric. She could breathe life into old, discarded remnants of cloth. More than that, she was MY seamstress. My mother made me out of everything she could sew together. She dedicated her life to me – her big sewing project. She shaped and arranged me into a solid functioning woman. She taught me everything she knew. My art is my avenue to express her priceless lessons.