It was at age 15 in 1923 when Mary Perry first left Rhode Island to go to New York City to study art at the Art Students League . She returned to Rhode Island to finish high school, but she knew she wanted to go back to New York and continue to study art. After graduating from high school she went to Traphagen School of Fashion and Design in New York City. Mary was not interested in fashion, but her practical older sister had suggested Traphagen as it guaranteed its graduates a job after graduation. Mary said later in life, she was lucky for Traphagen despite its fine reputation for fashion, gave her, like the Art Students League, a solid art education . She graduated from Traphagen unable to find work for it was the Great Depression. In 1934 she was part of the first non- professional exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum, where her sculpture won a honorable mention prize. She recalled later that it was probably the sculpture prize that made it possible for her to get on the WPA or as she referred to it as "The Project."
She became one of forty women sculptors on the New York City Federal Arts Project ( Commonly referred to as the WPA) It was during this time she began to do protest art which became her life long interest. Though none of her social- protest sculpture pieces from the 30's and 40's remain, there are a few photographs of some of her "Project" pieces and a few other pieces. Besides doing her own work on the NYC Federal Arts Project, she also taught children sculpture at the Harlem Art Center and the East Side House, and at the end of her Project term pointed up a sculpture for the sculpture Cesare Stea which was sent to West Point.
During the 1930's and 1940's , she exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum, Carnegie Hall, New York University, Rockefeller Center, The Roerich , The New School for Social Research, Radio City, Independence Hall, and such galleries as the ACA Gallery and the Municipal Gallery in New York City.
In 1939 Mary married Dmitri Goulandris . After they divorced during the war , she worked in the shipyards. After the War she met her second husband, Ed Stone whom she married in 1946.
With Ed and her daughter, Ramie she moved to San Francisco Bay Area in 1953. During the 50's and 60's in the San Francisco Bay Area Mary's work was at the Telegraph Hill, East West, and Greta Williams galleries in San Francisco and she was part of the Artists Cooperative. It was at the Oakland Museum where she won an award for her sculpture called " Musician". Her opposition to the U.S involvement in Vietnam War was the theme of a solo show at Dominican College in San Rafael , California. For a number of years in the 60's she had her own gallery in both Mill Valley and San Rafael, California where the artists could show for free.
In the 70's and 80's, Mary's work was shown in Benicia and Sausalito, California, and at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. Mary moved to Ashland ,Oregon in 1992. The Grants Pass Museum, the Rogue Valley Art Gallery, and the Art Space Gallery near Tillamook , Oregon exhibited her work. Her last solo show in February of 2006 at the Thorndike Gallery on the Southern Oregon University campus featured her social- protest work done from the years 1939 through 2000.
In 2001 " Art and Antiques Magazine," had an essay on her Federal Arts Project experiences and the destruction of her sculpture. Her art papers are in the Smithsonian, The National Museum of Women in the Arts, and at Sonoma State University in their collections on women artists. She did over 50 social-protest canvas murals during her lifetime as she said she felt she needed to express what she felt about injustice through her art. Mary believed strongly that art was what made us human and hoped someday that art would be more revered.