Kara Maria | Lost Pollinators
Bio
American, Born 1968, Binghamton, New York / Lives in San Francisco, California Kara Maria is a visual artist working in painting and mixed media. Her work reflects on political topics—feminism, war, and the environment. She borrows from the broad vocabulary of contemporary painting; blending geometric shapes, vivid hues, and abstract marks, with representational elements.

Maria received her BA and MFA from the University of California, Berkeley. She has exhibited work in solo and group shows throughout the United States at venues including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Cantor Center at Stanford University; the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, Texas; the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art; and the Katonah Museum of Art in New York; among many others. Her work has garnered critical attention in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Art in America. Maria has been awarded artist residencies at the Montalvo Arts Center, Recology Artist in Residence Program, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, and at the de Young’s Artist Studio. She has been a recipient of many awards and honors, including a grant from Artadia, an Eisner Prize in Art from UC Berkeley, and the Masterminds Grant from SF Weekly. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, the San Jose Museum of Art, the de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University, the di Rosa in Napa, Mills College Art Museum in Oakland, and the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, among others. Maria lives and works in San Francisco; and is represented by Catharine Clark Gallery. For more information please visit www.karamaria.com.

Exhibition Statement
My work is a visual dialogue between abstraction and representation in paintings, drawings, and prints. I borrow from the broad vocabulary of contemporary painting, blending geometric shapes, vivid hues, brush-marks, and stains with a host of social and environmental concerns seen through flashes of representational elements. I have included images such as surveillance cameras; fragments of women's bodies; the wreckage left behind after hurricane Katrina; military aircraft; and birds in flight. Other reference materials for my work include comic books, Japanese woodblock prints, and camouflage patterns. I am aesthetically influenced by the popular culture of the 1970s – especially the toys I grew up playing with like Lite Brite, Colorforms, and Spirograph.

Animals are a recurring theme in my work. I am currently researching endangered species in relation to climate change, poaching, and other man-made disasters, and incorporating my findings into my work. The first paintings I did of this kind included well-known animal representatives of the current trend of mass extinction – such as a polar bear, and monarch butterfly. As my idea was sparked by reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s 2014 book The Sixth Extinction, I also made a painting depicting a Panamanian golden frog, one of the animals whose stories she discusses at length. The most recent paintings focus on endangered and threatened local animals – those from the US, and especially those from California. I recently completed paintings that include a California condor, a northern spotted owl, and a Sierra Nevada yellowlegged frog. I am also interested in animals that are not endangered per se, but dwell in the wildland-urban interface, and have conflicting relationships with the people living around them – such as mountain lions, bears, and coyotes, among others.

From 2014 to 2015 I was an artist-in-residence at Recology (the San Francisco dump). My project there was to use canvases I found in the trash, including amateur paintings and digitally printed, mass-produced artwork from Ikea, and over-paint them with recycled acrylic paint from the Household Hazardous Waste Program. The abstract portions of the paintings speak to the environment of the Recology facility, a constantly churning and tumultuous place. The representational portions reflect another aspect of the facility—the living creatures that inhabit or pass through the site. Interspersed within the paintings are detailed renderings of seagulls, raccoons, hawks, and other animals. These animals are far from endangered – in fact they are thriving on our trash. My experience during the residency underlined for me the interconnected lives of humans and animals, and the impact our trash and desire to consume has on the natural environment. It also piqued my interest in the flip-side of species loss – that of overly prolific and invasive species that are contributing to our biodiversity crisis.

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