A member of the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame, artist Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton was born in Kentucky. At 15 years old, she enrolled in the Philadelphia School of Design for Women from which she graduated with honors. Remaining in Philadelphia, she opened an art studio, creating both fine art and commercial work while also plying her skills in art restoration.
In 1926, she and her family moved west to Flagstaff, Arizona, where she co-founded the Museum of Northern Arizona. Colton worked as the Museum’s curator for 20 years, during which her paintings and curated exhibits created a historical record of the Colorado Plateau. She authored two books and numerous articles while continuing her artistic career and is also known for her dedication to bringing recognition and acceptance of Native American artists to the international art community.
Colton painted in a variety of genres, and her oeuvre includes landscapes, still life paintings and portraiture. Respected for her work as a curator, ethnographer and artist, she was a member of the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors, the American Watercolor Society and the American Federation of Arts.