Jane Lieber Mays

Project Artist

Jane Lieber MaysWhile most resumes focus only upon college and graduate level education, it is important for me as a complex woman to acknowledge my earliest and most profound influences.

Elizabeth Ennenga Lieber, my mother, was a 1944 graduate of the School of the Chicago Art Institute. Her creativity stretched into every corner of our home. Though we had little money, resource materials were always available: old rags, a button box, and miscellaneous cast-offs were recycled into whatever was needed to actualize imagination. I walked with her through fields gathering armloads of wildflowers in the spring, or dried milkweed pod and bittersweet in the fall to arrange in clay crocks. We strung garlands of crimson leaves on Indian Summer days and draped them from brass sconces, spraying them gold and mixing them with berries for winter. We spent hours pouring over paintings reproduced in mother’s collection of artists’ monographs. She read to me endlessly from old copies of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and

The Real Mother Goose illustrated by Blanche Fisher Wright. She taught me calligraphy, how to paint my reflection in her coffee pot, how to design a dress by making newspaper patterns, and the anatomy of the leg for a second grade story project.

Lincoln Karl Lieber, my father, was a graduate of the University of Illinois. He was a rock hound and together we searched for treasures on long hikes. His tumbled agates were companions in my pockets and desk drawers. Having studied geology he taught me to see how earth-hued agate patterns echo resounding geologic events. My father’s fascination with archeology and Native American spirituality infused our home with thanksgiving, awe, and respect.

I began making portraits professionally at age 15 in Quincy, Illinois. Creating a likeness came easily, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted something more because “there was something behind the eyes.”

After high school, my development continued at the Scuolo ‘d Arte La Romita in Terni, Italy. I studied at Rockford College in Illinois and the Cleveland Institute of Art before completing her BFA at University of Minnesota, and an MA at Goddard College in Vermont.

My teaching experience includes the American Academy of Art in Chicago, the Grand Marais Art Colony in Minnesota, the University of Southern Maine, and Linfield College in Oregon. Currently I am an adjunct instructor at Chemeketa Community College in Oregon, teaching Introduction to Drawing, Figure Drawing, and Portrait Workshops. I have exhibited in Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Vermont, Maine, and Oregon.

My artist-teacher sensibilities were formed by an early respect for my creative potential. I was a fortunate youngster to encounter many sensitive people who taught me how to see and translate my ideas. I recognize this moment of connection in other people: it is what I try to put down on canvas as a painter of portraits, or draw out of students as a mentor in teaching.