MAURA HOLDEN ARTISTS BIOGRAPHY
Maura Holden was born in 1967 in Philadelphia PA. She spent most of her childhood absorbed in a multi-dimensional daydream, which formed the foundation of her visionary quest as it continues today. Dreaming, drawing and water-coloring continually throughout her youth, Maura was able to present her first solo show at age sixteen, in the family home, with a large body of detailed paintings and drawings of inner landscapes populated by spirits and supernatural beings.
Though Maura’s very early work was definitely fantastic – heavily influenced by Max Ernst, Dali, and her own mystical dreams – she did not anticipate the full flowering of her visionary kinship until seeing the art of Ernst Fuchs. This profound event occurred when she was twenty-four, at a party, where someone handed her a book of Fuchs’ art. From the moment she held the book, Maura has been a devoted fan, strongly influenced by Fuchs and his lineage.
Maura has never had formal painting instruction, but has pieced together her own education from a combination of book research, experiments with art materials and techniques, looking at other artists’ work, and a lot of time at the easel.
In 2002 Maura had her first solo gallery show, “Carnivorous Architecture”, at Gallery in the Woods in Brattleboro, Vermont. The show brought Maura a small flurry of recognition, leading soon afterwards to a year-long group show, “High
on Life”, at the American Visionary Art Museum, followed the next year by another, “Golden Blessings” at the same museum. Her contribution of five paintings to the first of these shows brought many new friends and connections, and Tom Patterson, the curator of “High on Life”, later went on to write a feature article about Maura and her work for Raw Vision Magazine, issue 56, Autumn 2006.
Maura’s involvement with AVAM and Raw Vision linked her to the Outsider Art movement, which encompasses Art Brut and all self-taught artists.
In 2003 Maura participated in the Society for Art of the Imagination’s “Brave Destiny” show, at the Williamsburg Art and Historical Society, again re-enforcing her emphasis on the fantastic.
After this show, it would be three years before Maura unfolded further into the public sphere. In 2003, she embarked on an experiment in consciousness, repairing to a hermit’s cabin in rural Vermont, beginning a new shamanic nature-oriented phase, and a new body of work….
For three years, she remained in the cabin, without running water, electricity or the media. Secluded in the forest, she experienced a suspension of time and ordinary perception, and rediscovered, through astral journeys, what she came to think of as the archaic human mindset, brimming with myth, magic and archetypes…
This period constituted a death and re-birth. Maura welcomed the breakdown of the older structures of her world-view, and passed from her own version of 20th century consciousness into a more basic or universal human consciousness. She asserts that she lost her identity during this time, and merged with the forest’s myriad woven sound and sentience… A sense of “becoming nobody” allowed her to release outworn thoughts and begin fumblingly to manifest a new kind of vision. The realms of Earth-aliens, faeries and the geometry of plants and minerals began to replace the ruinous anthropomorphic cities of her earlier period. A new outlook began to take root. With the tremendous inflow of energy and novelty this process unleashed, Maura began, but did not finish, roughly fifteen paintings, ranging from the epic and arduous to the simple but
characteristically delicate and time-consuming…
In 2006 she left the cabin and built an amateur website for her art. The publisher Jon Beinart soon discovered the website, and included her work in “Metamorphosis – 50 Contemporary Surreal, Fantastic and Visionary Artists”, her first compilation book. From there, other online and magazine publications also contacted her, and she discovered her love of books and publishing…
Around 2007 Maura became pen pals with Laurence Caruana, at first corresponding with him mainly about philosophical, spiritual and aesthetic ideas. Their friendship became more personal over time, eventually leading Maura to participate directly in the Visionary Art community. In 2011 she joined Laurence, Amanda Sage and Andrew Gonzales in teaching the “Visions in the Mischtechnik” seminar, in Tori Superiore, Italy, where she lead a drawing intensive. She will return to Tori Superiore to teach painting at the seminar in 2012.
MAURA HOLDEN on Fantastic Visions
At a very young age when I had only a vague idea of the meaning, it was predicted that I was an artist. This was from observations by my elementary school teachers and encouragement from my Mother, who not only appreciated art but was also a talented painter. The title of artist tended to give me a kind of identity…a suggestion that I was gifted in a certain way. With only that assumption as my guide, I pursued drawing and painting without academic training. My earliest attempts were produced by my sense of awe when pouring through books and art magazines. The works of a famous surrealist caught my eye at age twelve. From that time forward I would say that I was basically self-taught. That is not necessarily a compliment. There are areas I will never be proficient in yet the simple love of creating art drove me to figure things out along the way. It wasn’t until I was 31 that I availed myself of some formal art training but by then I had already spent many years working in commercial graphics, technical illustration, animation, photography, and film production. Those earliest accomplishments tutored my creativity but did little to satisfy my urge to paint large meaningful works. That would have to wait a while. A very fortunate aspect of my career in the earlier years was the wide variety of artistic areas I managed to find work in. In each decade from the seventies, I augmented commercial art with a few fine art paintings. Results were slow at first, I was yet to emerge from all the strict confines of commercial work to the freedom of just painting for imagination’s sake.
I partnered in a three-man show in 1988 and hung a one-man show in 1990. After a serious painters block in the mid-nineties, I re-awoke determined to attend to a lifelong desire…that of large canvases with more serious intent. As the turn of the century approached, I couldn’t escape a distinct feeling that something big was going to happen. I began painting futuristic images inspired by the notion that entering the third millennium should be punctuated by some visionary artwork.
I’ve always remembered the words of my favorite art teacher; ‘produce a sense of light direction’. I have only reached that lofty goal on occasion. In some of my recent works, I’ve attempted to capture beauty in the midst of calamity to produce a sense of wonderment and emotional response. And of course, there’s often a curiosity about symbols present and their interpretation. So after a significant time spent in seclusion, I offer a few pieces that came into being in the past 6-8 years. These four canvases are connected; Surrealistic Quadriptic. There’s more from the past and hopefully from the future as well.
About Deborah Stevenson
Deborah Stevenson was born in Washington, DC. She grew up in Tokyo, went to high school in Baltimore, and got her BA from Sarah Lawrence College in New York. She lived for many years on the West Coast, and returned to the East Coast, where she lived in Brooklyn, NYC until 2015, when she relocated to the coastal town of Belfast, Maine.
My first medium is oil, and I have been a painter for nearly 30 years. I began composing collage pieces in earnest 5 years ago, working with material in magazines, books, newspapers, etc. My influences include the pioneer collage/surreal artists: Braque, Ernst, Hannah Hoch, Joseph Cornell, Magritte, to name a few, as well as the German Expressionists in all media. Other influences in visual media include masters in film and photography, both contemporary and classical
A life-long interest in Eastern philosophy and Jungian psychology have contributed to my fascination with allegory and symbology. Themes that recur in my work express metaphorically my exploration of concepts of power, beauty, the Feminine, and mysterious archetypal conjunctions.
The work arises in an ‘automatic’ way; I do not set out with an objective or goal in my mind when I sit down to make something. The images compose themselves spontaneously as I mix and move the masses of paper around on the table in front of me. I feel as though my eyes and hands facilitate the ‘arrival’ of the pictures that I make. More than anything else, the process requires of me that I pay attention, and to be in a receptive state, so as to be ready to capture the dialogue.
By Joost Jordens and Mike Von Rotz
Transition is a virtual reality experience based on the music of Kettel & Secede. A metaphor for death, Transition takes you on a journey from one world into the next. This film was featured in the Kaleidoscope VR Film Festival.
Mike von Rotz and Joost Jordens are two fresh graduates from the Utrecht University of the Arts 3D Animation course. ‘Transition’ is their first production in the medium of Virtual Reality. They live in the Netherlands, where they are working on new VR experiences. You can find Joost on Vimeo or Twitter and Mike on Twitter.