Mary Welch Higgins
Mary Welch Higgins

Photo Credit: Tysons Headshots™ by Adriana Escalante

Education and Professional History

Mary Higgins was born and raised in Washington DC. After graduating with a BFA from Corcoran College of Art and Design in 1986, she worked for six years at The Phillips Collection before moving to Northern Virginia. She received her MA in Visual Information Technology from George Mason University in 1995 where she received a Graduate Teaching Fellowship and taught a graduate level computer animation course. From the late 90’s through the early 2000’s, she served as an adjunct professor at George Mason University while working as a creative director for a start-up technology company.

She has twice received awards for her creative and innovative approach to problem solving. Once for producing educational interactive design projects for the National Library of Medicine and the second from the City of Fairfax Chamber of Commerce for leading her own startup company.

Recently she served for five years as a gallery director and curator for the Schlesinger Center at Northern Virginia Community College where she produced or curated more than 80 exhibitions including three site-specific public installations. She maintains her artistic practice of drawing and exhibiting throughout the Washington DC region.

In late 2021, Mary established Distinct Studios LLC as a vehicle to promote and support the work of contemporary artists in the Washington DC area and beyond. With Distinct Studios, she combines her experience as a gallery director and curator with her technology and digital marketing experience, and her love and deep knowledge of art.

Personal History

Mary Welch Higgins is a fourth-generation Washingtonian. Her art education began at a young age when her artist mother, Helen Schrider Higgins began taking her and her siblings on frequent excursions to local museums – in particular the National Gallery of Art, the Hirshhorn, the National Museum of Asian Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Renwick Gallery.  The family visited so frequently that the museums felt like second homes.

In addition to the museums, Mary has memories of “stop-in” visits to the legendary Franz Bader Gallery and bookstore. She remembers Franz Bader coming out of his office to greet and converse with her mother as she leisurely looked at the books in his store. Franz Bader’s warm approach to artists and gallery visitors made a lasting impression.

One of her favorite youthful “off the Mall” museum excursions was The Phillips Collection. Mary first encountered the Paul Klee room, as well as the mediative Mark Rothko room during these early visits. The Phillips Collection became another DC home and a haven to study contemporary visual art in an intimate environment.