Mission News Exhibitions Support Store Contact Us Home

Contact: Dr. Joseph V. Scelsa


Italian American Museum
Artiste Italiane
Women Artists of Italian Heritage

Artist: Maria Cocchiarelli
Light Box 13
Ink jet transparencies with plexiglass and florescent light source
17 x 22 x 6 in.

Artist: Maria Cocchiarelli
Light Box 4
Ink jet transparencies with plexiglass and florescent light source
17 x 22 x 6 in.

Maria Cocchiarelli - Bio/Artist Statement:

Since, 2007, I have lived in Huerfano County, Colorado with my husband, fellow-artist, Brendt Berger. We came to Walsenburg, to open the Museum of Friends. Please visit www.museumoffriends.org. Before that I worked at the Italian American Museum when it was on 44th Street as the curator of collections. During that time I curated over 8 major exhibitions and produced extensive catalogues. It was a very happy time in my life as I felt I had found my calling.

As an artist I have always created while making a living in related areas of teaching, curating, and making public art. During the last decade my work has developed with elements of light, and translucency. Earth has always been the subject of my intention, now coupled with water, energy, (wind) the resulting "light boxes" are closer in spirit to who I am.

I began painting when I was 12 years old and later attended the Brooklyn Museum's Art School for children. I remember the first time I walked into the architectural splendor and experienced the space around me - the scale of the vaulted ceilings and the visual delights from every angle on my walk to the painting studios. Still, this memory takes my breath away. During our breaks we were encouraged to roam freely through the galleries, another shift in perspective from my daily routine - (having grown up in East New York, Brooklyn a very violent neighborhood.)

During those breaks I discovered my first love - Paul Cezanne, his small watercolor of a boy standing in a grove of trees from behind. Perhaps I never left that place really - the joy and innocence of finding something new to look at consumes me to this day.

Since the last 12 years of operating the Museum of Friends, I have not abandoned the idea of painting, but waiting for the next breathe of inspiration. The light box series has captured my imagination with the layering of plastic, with exposed images of the undersea allowing my psyche to breath. This gives me the impetus to explore how my earliest memories of making mud pies and to recreate wave patterns of the ocean in a small enclosure of my childhood backyard began my creative journey.

In 2003, I finished an MFA degree at CUNY, Queens College, before that I lived in Kansas City, Missouri having moved there in 1996 for a position with the Kemper Museum. I moved there from Laramie, Wyoming, where I worked in at the University Art Museum from 1993 to 1996. Before that I lived in New York and worked for a number of cultural institutions and as an artist in residence for the New York Foundation for the Arts.

For a time before this I worked for Marc di Suvero at Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, NY designing and running the education department. I was also creating murals with partner Richard Mock, and public art for the 1% for the Arts and the New York City School Construction Authority. I learned that in order to create public art, knowing who is your audience is paramount.

Earlier I finished two degrees from CUNY, Queens College in 1985 - a graduate degree MS in Art Education and a second BA in Studio Art. My first BA was in Art History from Syracuse University where I met my best friend, and life long colleague Jane St. Lifer.

I began showing my plein air paintings in 1985 while living in Long Island City, Queens. I created many oil paintings of urban scenes. I was very involved in NOIAW and spoke about my experience.
A few years later, I moved to Greenpoint, Brooklyn and continued with this tradition, mainly from my studio window. In early 1990 moved to Red Hook, Brooklyn and again painted what I saw with attention to light.

When I traveled to Wyoming, my work became increasingly abstract. My concentration was focused on light, while expanding on the ethereal nature of our existence. The "Objects of My Desire" series, although begun in my studio in Brooklyn, was fully developed in Laramie, Wyoming, while my peers emphasized representationalism.

After that period I moved to Kansas City, and expanded the "Objects of My Desire" series and my work as a community artist. The paintings continued to evolve while I created art gardens, murals, and traveled as an itinerant artist for the Missouri Arts Council.

One year after 911, in 2002, I decided to make my home New York City again. I felt that if there were another attack I would want to be with my friends and family.

Currently have a database with over three hundred paintings and over thirty community facilitated murals and gardens. I continue to pursue new public art projects, and have helped to beautify Walsenburg, Colorado with planter boxes crated with at-risk youth, seniors, and anyone who wants to help. Art for me has always been social action.

Join our mailing list


© 2017 Italian American Museum, Inc.

info@italianamericanmuseum.org | Site Design: Webb Communications