Mary Ensz (she/they) is a Nebraska based artist and muralist. Mary received her BFA in Studio Art from Creighton University in 2011 and is co-organizer with Nasty Artist Collective, a group of local artists seeking to use the arts to bring about social change. In the community, Mary creates vibrant murals and in her attic studio she experiments with painting, drawing, and collaging. They layer human forms and Russian nesting doll shapes to connect with identities and truths. 

Mary’s curatorial experience includes several NAC group shows and their work has been displayed in the Kaneko, RBR Gallery, Split Gallery, OutR Spaces, Benson Art Gallery, Apollon Art Space, Petshop Gallery, Hot Shops Art Center, and Creighton University. She has created several private murals as well as being lead artist for Westgate Pool’s mural through the Cammy Watkins for City Council campaign and co-lead artist on “Mental Health is Community Health” on 24th Ave. and Farnam.

Artist Statement: As a visual artist, muralist, and stay-at-home-parent, I cultivate nests in personal and public spaces to nurture connection.  In my personal work this is visually represented by the human form, shapes of Russian nesting dolls, and intuitive abstractions. Guided by inner child healing through therapy and recovery groups, I create physical and emotional layers using acrylic paint and drawing materials, and often collage in nostalgic or rummaged items. Some of the “nested” themes in my work include lived experience with trauma, LGBTQIA2S+ struggles and celebrations, mental health, addiction, and issues specific to people with uteruses. I’m inspired by late feminist artist Ana Mendieta, Omaha’s Wanda Ewing, and contemporary nonbinary artist Kim Leutwyller as well as my three children who often create alongside me. Since reading work by adrienne maree brown and Sonya Renee Taylor and others, my art has embraced the individual body’s interconnectedness to the collective and insisting on joy amongst oppressive systems.

*Matryoshkas are a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside another. Vasily Zvyozdochkin, wood turning craftsman and wood carver, made the first Russian nesting doll set in 1890 from a design by Sergey Malyutin, craft painter.



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