Hailing from the Eastern shore of Virginia, Mary "Mama Girl" Onley (early 1950s – 2018) was known for her papier-mâché sculptures and colorful paintings. She started making art after a series of seizures and a diagnosis of severe allergies caused her to stop working in the fields—work she had done for more than 22 years since age 12.
Onley began experimenting with a variant of papier-mâché using strips of newspaper, Elmer's glue and acrylic paint. She created her art in her home studio on a back road in Painter, Virginia.
Also a pastor, Onley called for guidance on the Spirit — the voice of God that would speak to her when she began working on a new piece of art. "I said good Lord, give me something nobody's never done. Show me how to work this newspaper and glue," she said. "The Spirit showed me how to work the newspaper and glue and I started right from there, you know."