Mary Harju was born in Media, Pennsylvania, and received a certificate in painting from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts as well as a BFA with a minor in art history from the University of Pennsylvania. She received an MFA from the New York Academy of Art where she studied painting and anatomy. She has shown work in galleries in New York and Philadelphia, including the Artist's House Gallery in Philadelphia and Alex Sloane Gallery in Manhattan. She has taught classes in painting at the Woodmere Art Museum, been a visiting artist at Parsons School of Design, and co-taught a thesis class in the BAFA program at the New School in New York. She lives and works in Philadelphia.