Born in California in 1961, Mary Tuma began sewing and crocheting with her mother at an early age. Her love of these processes led her to begin her formal study of art as an apprentice at Beautiful Arts Hall in Kerdassa, Egypt, where she learned to weave tapestries. Later, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Costume and Textile Design from the University of California at Davis, and then went on to study women’s fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. In 1994, she earned a Masters of Fine Arts degree from the University of Arizona, where she studied with Professor Gayle Wimmer. In 1997, she began teaching art at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, where she now serves as an Associate Professor and the head of the Fibers Program.
The gigantic and empty dresses hanging in the emptiness of the exhibition space differ dramatically from the former typical traditional dresses in the oil and printed works of the earlier period. They still offer, albeit through a different artistic language, a highly charged political commentary about diaspora and exile, home and homeland.