Maria Macedonio-Ritter is an artist that is uniquely skilled in both traditional painting and conceptual quilt making. In her newest work, Come Unity-A Quilt For One Another, Macedonio-Ritter took on the unique challenge of creating a quilt that incorporates human hair. In this project she reflected on the extremely intimate nature of working with the hair of both strangers and loved ones, and chose to also include notes from family and friends that remain illegible in the work. When installed as part of Islip Art Museum’s It’s Getting Hairy exhibit, the quilt will be hung parallel to the gallery’s fireplace. Macedonio-Ritter states: “The fireplace, a feature that we welcome in our homes, represents a delicate balance, as it is potentially aggressive, however, when controlled provides warmth and security.” The overall finished product is very innovative and the fresh-perspective on the tradition of quilt making exposes the vulnerability of those who donated a part of themselves to it. It also speaks to the vulnerable nature of humanity as a whole.
“The hair was donated by family members and friends and even some people who I don’t know. I left a description of the project for my hairdresser at The Cutting Club in Blue Point, and people donated their hair. When I told people about the project they were excited to donate their hair because they felt as though they were a part of a piece of art. As I created the quilt it became something bigger. Everyone struggles with something in life and the quilt became more of a prayer, it was quite an emotional project.”
When she is not working on conceptual quilts, Macedonio-Ritter paints vibrant, expressive paintings in a variety of different styles and techniques. She is successful at capturing the essence of many different art genres and shares her knowledge as an art teacher in the Connetquot Central School District and as Director of The Center for Visual Arts in Blue Point, New York. Creating gestural paintings of animals is where she feels most at home, and hopes these paintings inspire viewers to examine their relationships with animals. Her figurative and conceptual works are unified by a strong sense of gesture and color that are apparent throughout her bodies of work.
When I asked Macedonio-Ritter where her inspiration stems from, she replied: “I have always loved the work of Grace Hartigan. I also admire the way she stayed true to who she was as a painter rather than following what was popular. My quilt works address another concern of mine. My primary goal in these works is to push the limitations of how painting is defined. I decided to eliminate the surface for pigment so that the painting could be viewed on either side. I feel my father, who is not a painter, but a very creative person, has influenced me by always showing me how to take the road less traveled.”
Macedonio-Ritter’s work is on display from October 1st to November 1st at the Islip Art Museum. SPARKBOOMTM will co-curate the show along with Beth Giacummo, including the closing reception on November 1st, “Things Are Getting Hairy”, featuring a Hair Sculpture Show, food, music, Mythological Costume Contest, and of course, all of the amazing artists on display. Visit islipartmuseum.org for more info and check out the official FB event.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Caitlyn Shea is a professional fine art painter. She studied Studio Art and Art History at Pratt Institute and Skidmore College before graduating with a BFA from Adelphi University in 2011. Outside of her studio, Shea is captivated by the pluralism that exists in art today, and the ways in which individual artists define themselves and their practices in order to carve out a unique career. By interviewing participating SPARKBOOMTM artists, Shea looks to develop a dialogue between practicing artists and an audience that does not only include other art experts, but people who have a newfound urge to become involved in experiencing the work of fresh, exciting artists.