Maria Stabio: Artist Statement
Maria Stabio’s recent work moves beyond the brush to luminous, multilayer narratives crafted out of shape and pigment. Inspired by a series of recent trips to visit family in the Philippines, these pieces are a dreamlike web of the familiar and the unfamiliar, which speak to the disjointed experience of finding personal identity and heritage in a place that is also foreign. Tropical plants, shoes, and plates of food are layered alongside scenes of taking a shower, walking in the rain, and using a flashlight. The overlaid silhouettes create a confusion of color, shape, and positive and negative space in which these identifiable subjects lose their familiarity and begin to become something new.
Stabio’s process resembles printmaking, as she superimposes shadow-like imprints of subjects upon each other in overlapping screens of pigment. The imprints are created using handmade stencils, crafted with freezer paper, a projector, objects such as clippings of weeds and leaves from various plants, and parts of her own body. The paint itself is applied with a disposable aerosol sprayer—a tool which sprays fine dots on the canvas that can be manipulated in size and frequency by the artist. Using transparent primary colors, Stabio then blends and overlaps the pigment to create the vibrant secondary and tertiary colors that characterize her palette—the tiny dots of light, transparent color lending each painting a distinct texture and movement. The result is a body of work that engages deeply and consciously with the artistic movement of Pointillism, particularly in its careful attention to color theory. Driven by the desire to expand this exploration of the palette, Stabio has recently begun working with darker tones, experimenting with paintings that begin with a black or grey canvas rather than the white that is used in her previous work. These pieces often begin with a color wheel inversion of the palette of her earlier, brighter-toned images.
Through its tiny, vibrating dots of color manipulated by stencil into mazes of unexpected objects and movements, Stabio’s work is a celebration of the complexity of human identity in relation to objects and space. In her repeated use of particular symbols and objects, this distortion of the known world also functions to form a unique visual language—one in which images are removed from individual memories and narratives and made part of a broader library of visual meaning. In this way, Stabio’s work speaks to the formation of identity beyond direct engagement with heritage, recognizing also the way memories can be made part of a distinct personal language when they are materialized upon a canvas.