Mary Cloonan was born and raised in Western New York State, receiving a B.S. in education from Nazareth College in Rochester, NY and earning her M.F.A. in ceramics from Syracuse University. She is a resident artist and the exhibitions director at Baltimore Clayworks and also teaches classes and workshops on-site and at various art centers around the country. Her work has been exhibited around the country and is in many private collections, and national and international art journals have published articles she has written, as well as those written about her own work. She has participated in an artist residency in Taiwan at Tainan University for the Arts in 2005.