The Ohio Artist Registry (OAR) is an exciting opportunity for artists to share their work, connect with the creative community, and establish an online presence—all on a free, virtual platform! The OAR encourages artists working in all art forms, throughout Ohio and beyond,  to create a profile, which allows them to better promote themselves and their work. Being listed in the OAR provides artists with new opportunities to share their work with clients, galleries, patrons, and audiences. A listing in the OAR does not confer an endorsement, approval, or verification by the Ohio Arts Council.
For more information, contact Kathy Signorino, artist programs director, at or 614-728-6140.

2024 Ohio Artist Registry Juried Exhibition

Mary Defer

Home 2123 Warren Road
Lakewood Ohio 44107 United States
Home Phone: 330-569-4573 Website: Mary Defer Visual Art & Photography


Mary Defer (she/her, b. 1992) is an artist based in Lakewood, a near-lifelong Northeast Ohioan. Raised on a family farm, she discovered her love for photography at Kenyon College, where she earned a B.A. in Studio Art. Her work has been exhibited regionally and nationally through organizations such as Valley Art Center, Soho Photo Gallery, and Filter Photo. In 2012, a book of her photography was included in DIY: Photographers & Books, the first-ever museum exhibition of print-on-demand photobooks at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Artist Statement

Central themes of my work include time, memory, and family history, which I explore through a variety of lens-based, sculptural, and cameraless methods. Often, I approach art as a means to process grief and trauma, and it’s my hope that the work will create space for conversations around these topics.

My Poor House series investigated the fleeting nature of memory using a Holga camera with a handmade lens filter. For the Temporary Constellation series, I composed intimate photographic still lifes using a Polaroid Land Camera (also with a custom lens filter) in my grandmother’s home following her move to a memory care facility. My installation for Rooms to Let further expanded on this subject matter: I covered domestic objects in Quikrete as a metaphor for the hardening of neural pathways that accompanies Alzheimer’s disease.

As an inaugural recipient of the Cleveland Print Room Invitational Residency, experimentation led me to merge the cliché-verre process with digitally modified scans of negatives made by my grandfather in the 1950s, which I then printed in the darkroom. I consider the resulting series – Portals (Hank) – an imagined collaboration with my grandfather.

Recently, I have continued my cameraless photography by observing the effects of light exposure on unfixed lumens. To inform my work, I draw inspiration from many time periods and mediums. For instance, I am influenced by the masterful chiaroscuro of Artemisia Gentileschi, the poetic toy camera imagery of Nancy Rexroth, and the expressive photographic constructions of Susan kae Grant.