Against the Grain

"Nautical Sunrise"; "Sunrise." Both are acrylic on paper, cut and collaged onto wood panel (2015).
“Nautical Sunrise”; “Sunrise.” Both are acrylic on paper, cut and collaged onto wood panel (2015).

“Transcentricity”—the latest series of multimedia (paint and paper) collages by Maria Mendoza—posits the idea that stillness can be claimed within an atmosphere of brisk activity. A ring—cut from a page—turns against the grain of the page’s original pattern. Within that ring, another ring winds in the opposite direction. At the center of these circles rests an unmoving orb, stationary but glowing.

Over years of performing with aerial silks—a form of acrobatics that requires the practitioner to perform midair, with or without a partner—Mendoza has cultivated the art of stillness. The performance relies upon strength of body and mind—and a trust in the strength of the medium and in each partner’s power—to allow the performer toremain in one position while suspended in midair.

“My silks training has really taught me a lot about myself, my ability to commit and my ability to trust myself and others,” Mendoza says.

And silks have provided her with resilience as well. Mendoza studied textile engineering—in particular, working with fabrics as wearable art—while at MICA. After graduating in 2013, she endured a lengthy artist’s block. Mendoza began to work in the visual arts again by experimenting with the tools and supplies she found in her studio to create collage textures while painting.

Mendoza finds inspiration from times of creative playfulness, but it is through her precise calculations of each cut, the premeditated application of each layer, that she is able to refine her collages.

“Once that first cut is made,” she says, “there is no going back.”

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