Born in Berkeley, California, Mary Corse is often associated with the American Light and Space movement of the 1960s.
In 1963, Corse received a BFA from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she studied psychology, and in 1968 a MFA from the Los Angeles Chouinard Art Institute, where she studied painting, philosophy, and Tibetan Buddhism.
In the mid-1960s, Corse started creating white monochromes on shaped canvases and Plexiglas constructions illuminated by fluorescent light bulbs. In 1968, she began incorporating tiny prismatic beads often embedded into highway pavement for their reflective properties into her paintings and blended them with different shades of acrylic, a technique that still forms the basis of her work.
Drawing inspiration from abstraction, colour and composition theories elaborated by well-known artists such as Kandinsky and Albers, Corse bridges the medium of painting and sculpture.