National Arts and Disability Center

Maria Medina-Schechter

Using public space to create a public voice for and a public consciousness about acts of courage, kindness, and compassion is documented in Medina-Schechter’s illuminated oils and collaged paintings. Maria’s technique is a blend of refined oil painting traditions through the use of women’s cosmetic brushes and methods used in costume and make-up design. The 17 countries she has visited and lived in influence her color palette. You will find many details of culture in her work. She is influenced by the youth activists from around the world who rise to battle racism, encourage gun control, and demand education for all girls in countries where it is not allowed. They passionately fight climate change, child trafficking, and abuse. They promote LGBTQ+, women’s reproductive rights, and so much more. Art is the liberation of all boundaries. Medina-Schechter’s work revisits painful historical truths, societal fractures, and an America with no leadership.

I began to learn art history and sculpture as a child from my grandparents, who were both artists. Throughout my life, my grandparent’s encouragement to pursue higher education in the arts never waivered. In 1994, I attended Cornish College of the Arts, working towards a Bachelor of Fine Art. I attended Cornish from 1994-1998. At the age of 20, I founded an international non-profit arts organization that blossomed into 13 countries. The organization What Is Art? Was based on Tolstoy’s book What Is Art. The organization examined art through technology and tradition. This was during a time when only a basic dial-up internet connection was possible. My work with over 200 artists from 13 countries led to a nomination for a MacArthur Award. I took this 5 year experience to New York University to gain further insight into arts administration. I initiated my graduate work with New York University, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. After my first year of this two-year program, I transferred to Schiller International University in Heidelberg, Germany, in 2006. I achieved a Masters in International Management in International Business on May 9, 2009. I have also been awarded grants from Goethe Institute New York City as a Cultural Liaison for the fostering of creative relations between the United States and Germany and furthering my study of the German language.

Professional Experience:

  • Triton Museum: Pocket Exhibition (Painting exhibited: Soul Catcher, Day 72 c19.), August, 17, 2020.
  • Triton Museum: Pocket Exhibition (Painting exhibited: The Greatest American Crime Story: American History.), July 6, 2020.
  • Abrams Claghorn Gallery: Group exhibition, April 15 - May 15, 2020.

Teaching Experience:

  • I currently work with the Palo Alto Art Center and will begin teaching two online classes September 12 through December. The first class is Create and Make for students who are ages 6-10. The second is Collage Around the World for artists ages 11-15. The collage class intends to teach introductions to color theory and oil painting. - Current
  • Lead Arts instructor with the Washington International School (2nd grade), 1998
  • First Place is a school developed to assist homeless children. I taught ages 7-15 for 3 years. These were onsite classes at the children’s shelter. Most children faced serious life decisions. Some had parents in jail; others were being held during court cases to keep the children safe and out of harm’s way. During this time, I focused on artists like Basquiat who used found objects to create his masterful works. I found these children to be quick learners, unafraid to take risks, and full of courage. – 1995-1998.

Artistic Discipline: 
Visual arts
Disability type: 
Physical/mobility disability

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited. Links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the National Arts and Disability at the University of California Los Angeles.

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