|Artwork created prior to residency.|
Residency: January-February 2012
"I am a rural artist." Those five words carry a freight of stereotypes and prejudices. Maria’s work glories in and confronts this predicament. She works with wearable sculpture – suits covered with burdock burrs – video interviews of residents in her small upstate NY town, and drawings.
The unlikely sculpting medium of burdock burrs is muse and metaphor for selves on the fringe: refuted, abject, left to waste. Growing most often in distressed soil, it is the invisible made monstrous to confuse your eye, ravage your hair and lay waste your fine clothes.
And yet, all the properties which render burdocks a weed can also make it a medicine. Herbalists tout the weed as a blood purifier, a tonic, a tincture…
In another body of work entitled "Still Life with Calving Iceberg," Maria explores the adolescent condition and identity formation through drawing and a metaphor that speaks to environmental devastation.
Maria has been drawing, painting and sculpting for many years. In 2010, she was a Crossroads Grant Recipient for a multi-disciplinary project entitled This Mad Attachment: The Burdocks Project which involved video-taped interviews with over 40 people from her home town on the topic of rural and urban stereotypes and the culture wars. The project included sculptures, drawings and street performance. This Mad Attachment was funded in part by The New York State Council on the Arts’ Decentralization program, administered locally by TheARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes.
Maria has exhibited her work in group shows in Brooklyn, Berlin and Binghamton among other places.
She received her MFA in Visual Art from Vermont College in 2008.
Maria McMahon is a member of the recently formed 2×2 collective, four artists who met through NYFA’s MARK program. The collective finds common ground in their disparate uses of the figure at intersections of the social/political/personal.
They create objects, interactive and sculptural installations, video, and street performances. Their figures have agency, empower viewers as centers of process and experience, and co-opt them as complicit participants. We complicate and push against dichotomies and hierarchies: self/other, perpetrator/victim, rural/urban, black/white, family/stranger, performer/observer.
At Sculpture Space, 2X2 is developing a collaborative installation for Gallery Aferro in Newark, NJ, which we will install immediately following our residency. The show will run from March 10th to April 14th, 2012. (http://www.aferro.org)