Mary Ann Aitken

An extremely private person, Mary Ann Aitken rarely showed her work during her lifetime. She studied art and art therapy at Wayne State University in Detroit, and moved to Brooklyn in 1989 to pursue a career as an art therapist at Woodhull Hospital. After she was diagnosed with cancer in 2007, Aitken concentrated fully on her own artwork. In her will, she set aside resources to preserve and exhibit her paintings. How to Remain Human includes nine of Aitken’s works, which focus on familiar objects including plants, gold fish, and food -- In observing and capturing their essence, she calls attention to the beauty of the everyday.  Her distinctive Self Portrait (1983) captures how painting and a dedicated studio practice were integral to Aitken’s spirit and sense of self.


Mary Ann Aitken (1960, Detroit, MI—2012, Brooklyn, NY) earned her BFA at Wayne State University, Michigan, in 1983, and an MA in Art Therapy from Wayne State in 1989. Aitken’s works are held in the collection of Wayne State University, Detroit and private collections both internationally and in the United States. In 2014, a large scale solo exhibition of her work was held at What Pipeline and Trinosophes, Detroit.