From the lush marshes of Louisiana to the warm waters of the Mississippi Sound, the mood and energy of the Gulf Coast are unmistakable.
Equally distinctive are the works of Ocean Springs artist Mary Louise Porter, who captures the region’s essence with a canvas, a paintbrush and an inexhaustible supply of enthusiasm.
“I have always known what I wanted to do in life – create,” says the Shreveport native. “It was natural to pursue my passion for painting and teaching as my life’s work.”
Porter received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in painting from Louisiana State University, and her talent
yielded artist-in-residence opportunities in New York, California, Costa Rica and Chicago. Her paintings appear in the permanent collections of the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum in Shreveport, the Alexandria Museum of Art in Alexandria, Louisiana and the University of Arkansas in Monticello, Arkansas.
Besides painting professionally, Porter has taught in several public and private schools and at the university level at Northwestern State University of Louisiana and Louisiana State University in Shreveport.
“I am proud of my various achievements in life, but I am also very proud of all the students I have taught,” she says. “Watching them have that ‘ah-ha’ moment of learning to see something new for the first time, that makes it all worthwhile — sharing my passion of what I love with others.”
Travelers passing through the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport can enjoy a selection of the artist’s contemporary landscapes, which have been installed on the second floor of the terminal building. Porter also created a line of versatile scarves carried at Mimi Reinke Designs, a boutique in downtown Ocean Springs, and an exhibit showcasing her work is planned from December 2024 to May 2025 at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art.
“I will be featuring examples of my work focusing on the relationship between sea and sky,” she says, “especially that ethereal moment when the two meet on the horizon.”
With their ever-shifting colors, light and movement, landscapes have long intrigued Porter. In graduate school, she painted in oil, but that soon changed to acrylics and other mediums.
“I love the freedom acrylics give me, enabling me to layer color upon color in my paintings,” she says.
Some of Porter’s personal favorite pieces depict the Gulf Coast’s dramatic sunsets and sunrises, which she describes as “some of the most amazing I have seen in all my travels.” Nature, with its abundant beauty and vulnerability, provides an endless source of inspiration to the artist, who depicts winding rivers, peaceful lakes, bountiful fields and other picturesque scenes.
As she steps into the private world of her studio each morning, a fresh cup of coffee in hand, Porter never takes the opportunity to create for granted.
“I have been painting most of my life, and every day is a new learning experience,” she says. “I would not want to do anything else in life.”