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Maria Elena Laret
Bexley OH 43209 United Stateshome Cell Phone: 6146481865cell
Born as Maria Elena Quinones in Columbus Ohio to a father from Puerto Rico and a mother from here. Raised with both cultures, but sadly not very bilingual. Two younger sisters. Father also trained at CCAD ~1950’s before the college was accredited. Worked as an editorial cartoonist and illustrator at newspapers and the federal government. His midcentury style has been one of my influences and I knew at a very early age that I would be an artist myself.
BFA from The Columbus College of Art & Design 1999.
Married to Joffre Laret since 1997, with two children, one of whom is a current student at CCAD.
I am a painter who prints, a printmaker who paints, and both processes find their way into nearly every piece I create. At some point I realized they’re all self-portraits. In some cases I use my actual body, but in every case there is an internal portrait of a belief, a crisis, a life event, a historical event that impacted me, and those take on the forms of representative imagery or objects: game boards, money, tokens, quilts, personal ads, anniversary announcements, wedding photos, family photos, odd trinkets, souvenirs, post cards, plastic toys–these things connect us to each other, to our childhood experiences and our family dynamics. Much of my imagery has developed into a sort of iconographic language that adds to the sense that the piece is about something, even when that may be somewhat ambiguous. The result is a collage of paint, prints or printing processes, and/or real objects. For continuity I will often work on two or three very different pieces simultaneously, rather than work in series.
I’m interested in the universals of human experience and how those bind us together in an interdependent community, or fracture us apart. There is a phenomenon that has evolved for some, coinciding with the euthanasia of God, to seek meaning in the experience of works of art. In particular, performance art, interactive art, installations, artist-curated spaces all strive to create a transformative experience (without necessarily dictating what that experience should be.) Regardless of where someone derives the sense of purpose sufficient to get them out of bed every morning, the urge itself for transcendence is one of those universals.
Although each of these pieces evokes very specific personal feelings and memories for me, they offer a shared experience with the viewer who engages with them. The delightful unintended consequences of each viewer’s thoughts, beliefs, prejudices, etc. superimposed onto the work creates a unique shared experience. In this way each work is both a finished piece and a living process. They look the way I talk: loud, rapid, loaded with information, provocative, a little pedantic, a little poetic, with overlapping and intersecting ideas all over the place. I’m no minimalist.
My artistic influences have been Jasper Johns, Paul Klee, Ann Hamilton, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Paula Scher, Amish quiltmakers, Milton Bradley, the U. S. Geological Survey, Puerto Rican street art, children’s art, and my dad’s art. With respect to Johns, I think it’s interesting that he employed things like maps, flags, and targets believing their mundane nature would focus attention on the paint itself. I use things like these in quite the reverse: these can be loaded with meaning and I use them precisely because they evoke emotions associated with family road trips, patriotism and gamesmanship. Weirdly, my work has resembled that of the late Jennifer Bartlett, although I don’t ever recall seeing her work while I was creating my pieces. She is more a contemporary, having started her career while I was starting college, and wasn’t published or written about where I would have had access to her work. I say this because there are some startling similarities that would smack of plagiarism were it not for these facts. That said, I have revisited her work and do find inspiration sort of after the fact.