Born in Sterling, IL on March 4, 1928, Mary attended the Jokake School in Scottsdale, AZ and then the Emma Willard School before earning BA’s from both the University of Chicago and the University of Arizona. Heller also studied at the International Center of Photography and the Maine Photographic Workshop. She moved to New York City in the 1950’s and worked at “The New Yorker” magazine for several years. In 1956, Mary was a professional Fine Art photographer; she and husband Peter traveled the world exploring, learning and looking for that magical place or moment which she so often captured in her images.
A resident of Siasconset in the summer, Mary held a deep attachment to Nantucket and worked to conserve the history, environment and character of the island through their leadership and support of The ‘Sconset Trust, The Nantucket Conservation Foundation, and The Nantucket Land Council. In addition, Mary was an active member and former board member of the Artists Association of Nantucket. In New York, Mary devoted herself to public education and the arts. As a longtime trustee of the Public Education Association and Chair of the Board of the NYC School Volunteer Program, she was a leader in the movement to improve the city’s public schools. Mary served as President of the Board of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and was a longtime board member of the McDowell Colony and the International Center for Photography.
On island she had exhibited with the James Hunt Barker Galleries, the Main Street Gallery, AAN, and others.