1st Place recipient

Maria Brito

My work is a means of communication with others.  It is the medium through which I explore my personal experience as I engage in a dialogue with the spectator, who, by seeing my work, can identify with its content through the recognition of similar events that have shaped their lives.

My work deals with essential and universal existence as defined by emotions, sensations, knowledge, and perception.  The imagery that I use is symbolic of a process of self-discovery, and it is a personal iconographic system developed from my identity as a woman, a mother, an exiled Cuban, a naturalized American, and a Catholic.

Alongside the particular details of my existence, my work is an exploration of the intrinsically universal elements that each aspect of my being represents, these being gender, family, national and ethnic identity, religion, and beyond religion, the unexplained realities that lie beyond life in the certainty of death.

I think of my large sculptures and installations as being brackets in our reality, the reality that we all share.  In these works I offer the viewer a newly transformed, alternative vision of that reality through the experience of sharing my perception.  The process of creating the sculptures and installations is visceral.  Each piece develops gradually, usually initiated by a memory or a realization of a feeling that is linked to a particular event or series of events.  The search for the expression of this feeling in a tangible form leads me to the manipulation of objects, forms, and space that create the imagery which I hope results in a recreation of the original catalyst.

Although I think of myself as a sculptor, painting has found its way into my work. My paintings evolved from the painted surfaces in the mixed media sculpture. Like the sculptures, they remain autobiographical.  This autobiographical component is achieved in great part through the use of art historical references that evoke my personal state of mind.

For approximately the past ten years, I have been paying attention to Early Renaissance

Art.  I react emotionally to the theatricality, the frozen action, the unreal perspective, and the confined spaces in the works of artists such as Giotto, Duccio, Fra Angelico, and Piero de la Francesca.  And to the pathos in the works of  van der Weyden and Mantegna.