I am happy to announce that I have been awarded the 2020 Arts and Accessibility Grant by the California Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Arts and Disability Center at the University of California Los Angeles.”
"It is important to design things that have a positive narrative" - Olafur Eliasson: Abstract: The Design of Art
I am an American painter and an artist with a disability. We have entered an era where our emotions consume us, our ideologies divide us, our culture binds us, and our beliefs build barriers. Yet we all share a humbling commonality with all other life forms; our breathe, the air we breath, gives life to all the world. My work steps back from the noise and documents fundamental questions and intentions. I use public space to create a public voice for and a public consciousness about acts of courage, kindness, and compassion. I am making more of what I want to see in the world.
I enjoy bringing together a variety of techniques into one painting. When I paint, I compose and feel inspired by music and musical techniques. I freestyle language, words, and phrases that capture the core of the painting's essence. Today, I focus on the intricacies found in geometric methodology. From two seemingly opposing concerns and approaches, I look to achieve a balance between history and hybridity, and micro and macro landscapes of language. Each finished piece is my greatest contribution from Source, and they act as a mudrā, which is a spiritual gesture and an energetic seal of authenticity.
Maria Medina-Schechter was born in Pasadena, California. Her father’s family comes from Guadalajara, in western Mexico. Her mother’s family hails from Ireland, and brings a deep rooted history and heritage in mysticism. Both sides of Maria’s family emphasize celebration and connection to nature.
Maria became enamored with the spirit of all living creatures as a child climbing trees, embarking on backyard adventures, and traveling to Mexico. She lived most of her life in Northern California, but has traveled extensively. Her travels to 17 countries, including living in three countries, significantly influenced her artistic work. She considers herself a cultural practitioner and an artist.
Maria received a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. She initiated her graduate work at New York University, working towards a Masters in Visual Art Administration, and later graduated with a Masters in International Business and Management Studies (IBMS) from Schiller International University in Heidelberg, Germany. Her interests are woven into her paintings. From Buddhist sutras to panels of color forming a sensory relationship with nature, she sews the experience into her paintings. Maria works in oils and collage. Medina-Schechter has had solo and group shows in California, Indiana, Seattle, Mannheim, Germany, New York, and Louisiana. She has been featured in The Seattle Times, WhiteHot Magazine, Colors NW Magazine, The Stranger Weekly, The Seattle Times Weekly, and Mannheimer Morgan.
She has received grants from the California State Arts Council-NADC UCLA, Goethe Institute New York City, Schiller International University, Cornish College of the Arts, and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. A MacArthur Award nominee, Maria has founded three significant organizations. The first is the WhatIsArt-WhatIsSound organization, initiated as an arts collective in 1998 with over 200 artists. The organization worked its way into 13 countries over a three year period, and became the primary work Medina-Schechter brought to New York University to pursue her Masters in Visual Art Administration. The second organization began as a Dadaist type of arts collective in New York, and grew into the Klaus Gallery and Arts Collective in Brooklyn, New York. She gained mayoral support from thirteen cities arts and cultural affairs offices, including Seattle, Washington; Mostar, (former) Bosnia; Strasbourg, France; and Mannheim, Germany.
This year, the California Arts Council and the National Arts and Disability Center at UCLA awarded Maria Medina-Schechter the Arts and Accessibility Grant. Her new body of work highlights youth leadership and the courage it takes to endure societal adversities leading to significant social change. The youth leaders she will paint this year are:
Simone Biles, 23 years old: an American artistic gymnast. With a combined total of 30 Olympic and World Championship medals, Biles is the most decorated American gymnast. She put her global fame in service of the #MeToo movement. She, along with more than 150 young female gymnasts, were able to end the sexual abuse they suffered from their doctor.
Sophie Cruz, 10 years old: an American activist. Her parents are undocumented immigrants from the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Cruz’s activism is geared toward ensuring the continuance of the DAPA program, which would allow her parents to remain in the United States legally.
Marley Diaz, 15 years old: an American activist and feminist. While in middle school, she launched a campaign called #1000BlackGirlBooks in November 2015.
Emma González, 20 years old: an American activist and advocate for gun control. As a high school senior, she survived the February 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. In response, she co-founded the gun control advocacy group Never Again MSD.
Greta Thunberg, 17 years old: a Swedish environmental activist who has gained international recognition for promoting humanity’s existential crisis arising from climate change.
Malala Yousafza, 22 years old: a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate.
Dounya Zayer, 20 years old: an Iraqi native and part of the 2020 peaceful protests in New York City. An officer shoved her to the ground and walked on, leaving Dounya with serious injuries. Previously, Dounya endured several years of harassment due to being muslim and her Iraqi heritage. She felt the need to stand up for others in her city to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Again, those who should be protecting her knocked her down. She possessed the courage of a mighty king to stand up in the face of racism and division in a country where she should feel welcomed. She, along with her family, have endured humiliation and battery from a nation that cannot protect its own minority citizens, let alone those who came to the United States for a better life.