Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Remember Breathing

On Sunday April 9th the show Remember Breathing will open at Carriageway Studio, Almonte, until the end of the month. I have a new group of pieces related to the awareness of living in a body, and some of my older work on the same theme. The new pieces are porcelain plates with cotton embroidery and ink drawings. I used pieces of my mom's trousseau and added red threads of embroidery and draw ink drawings. This artwork is an reminder to be body-present.

I will offer a workshop on printmaking, similar to the ones I offered in Mexico two years ago. During the two hours the participants will create mono prints using Akua inks and the Pin Press.

La Cueva

I spent ten days at La Cueva where my parents live. It is a beautiful house in the outskirts of Villa de Leyva, Boyacá. It is slowly turning green and luscious after 5 years of compost, red worms, soil improvement, natural fertilizers, and tons of research on what grows well in this arid land. They have found species that were known to Muisca people before Spaniards came to the Americas, such as malanga, yacón, bore, sweet potato, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, uchuvas, feijoas, beans, prickly pears, fique, caña brava and guava trees. La Cueva also has species brought by Europeans such as valeriana, sugar cane, blue berries, and rasp berries. Other plants come from Middle East such as pomegranates, figs, fava beans and oranges. La Cueva has samples of all of them, and more!

La Cueva also hosts chickens, ducks, sheep, and two dogs: Rumba and Conga who keep visitors entertained and welcome. As I write, the concert of frogs and crickets outside keep me company. I am preparing to leave and my heart sinks at the idea of not coming more often. This corner is a homage to hard work, creativity, and a constant study and exploration of nature. The most remarkable aspect of this place is that everyone who comes here feels loved and respected. My parents are indeed incredible people who have always lived in coherence with their values, generators of life and ideas around them, gathering people around as they move in life. I admire and respect them dearly.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Preparing for China

In preparation for China I visited Colombia. I flew from Canada, my home for the last fourteen years. (What does it mean that the three countries start with C?) During my visit we went for a hike to the beautiful Paramo del Rabanal, 1.5 hours from Ráquira, Boyacá. The air was light, it was a sunny and clear day, and we saw lots of stunning plants. We admired the frailejones and brought a few flowers for brewing tea; we found small white orchids, we feasted on agraz, a black edible berry, and we admired this vast extension of land with this particular ecosystem. With this visit to the paramo I felt rooted to this rich country where I belong.

My sense of belonging was also fostered by amazing people I visited. For instance, the lovely couple Cecilia Parody and Gonzalo Bernal are taking a sabbatical year to begin a book-exchange project across the country. Small libraries run free of charge and with no late-fines. It works thanks to volunteers of all ages who support the idea. They called the project La Hoja, meaning sheet of paper or leaf. So far they have initiated 55 book-exchange sites around the region in the last four years. La Hoja works wherever people want and need to read: in prison, hair salons, schools, cafes, and homes. The second person that left a strong impression was a judge who allowed the community aqueduct of Chaina to continue to own land housing facilities that serve around 1500 families. Despite juicy bribes from wealthy opponents who wanted the land for private use, this judge righteously enabled the aqueduct to continue operations on-going for thirty years. Hooray for an example of honesty and courage! And last, I participated in free cultural activities that improve civility, sensibility, community life. We went for a free concert of chamber music at San Francisco Convent, an ancient structure built in 1750. We took part in two life drawing sessions organized by a group of artists that have gathered for 5 years. We witnessed the rehearsal of a youth string orchestra under the direction of our friend Tomás Ojeda, who is starting a foundation for the arts in Villa de Leyva called AfinArce. I also saw my parents living the life they chose, helping others, walking the talk, growing food, creating and supporting artists, following their passion and convictions coherently.

The people of this country, their resilience, creativity and ingenuity give me hope of a better future in this crazy world we live in. I will carry them with me to China and they will make me proud of where I come from.
Paramo del Rabanal
Friends enjoying clean air
pre-Columbian pottery found at the páramo
Swimming at Piedras de San Pedro Reserve

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Preparing for show in April

The next show will be in Carriageway Studios in Almonte, Ontario, during the month of April. I am working on remembering to breath to deal with fear to dogs on the street, on politics, and other public places. In this time of bigotry, all immigrants and people on the periphery of mainstream ideology, colour, religion or gender -  face the possibility of humiliation, discrimination and sometimes extradition. In Canada people may diss you, or just not give you the job. So remembering to breath is a key to deal with all of it.
Ribcage, bronze in drawer, 32 x 27 x 8 cm,  1995

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Jose and I spent ten days in China, invited by the Montessori School of Shanghai. We spent week in Shanghai - with 34 million locals, and then a few days in Hangzhou - with only 9 million, called "Heaven" for its beauty. I loved the people; the unusual food; the design and perfection of its traditional arts; the galleries of contemporary art and the museums that guard and exhibit ancient knowledge; and I loved the green and luscious landscape. I was impressed by the efficiency of the massive transportation systems of which we used metro and train; the audacity of new architecture and the traditional buildings beautifully kept. Most of all I loved the sense of adventure in an unknown and foreign culture. 
Museum of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Hangzhou

Museum of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Museum of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Hangzhou at night

Clay deity at Shanghai Museum

Brush store

Shanghai airport

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Artifact Archives

As a BFA student at Concordia University (1984-1987) I took part in Artifact Artists Collective. After 30 years we decided to show the archives we stored, and to get together again to remember and celebrate everything we stood for during those formative years. We have all changed and evolved in different directions, but we share a common experience that remains meaningful for each one of us. Here is the blurb and some photos of the show in September 2016.

Blurb for the show Artifact Archives
Drawing on mylar over an archival letter to Artifact 
Drawing on mylar over an archival letter to Artifact
Blink Gallery
The Artifact gang

Where is your heart?

In September I had the show 'Where is your heart?" at Blink Gallery. See the blurb, poster and video. Check for more images at the webpage

Where Is Your Heart?

This show is an invitation to experience the beauty and complexity of the internal body. For me it is an exploration of the intricacies of our inner anatomy and the immense aesthetic possibilities of its internal structures. The two human scale cut outs are an invitation for connection to our internal health and balanced inner life. The lymphatic and nervous systems work as metaphors to social, spiritual and environmental connections. The shapes can be read as anatomical configurations, but can also have other meanings in relation to the richness and elaborate depths of the inner life or the way we perceive the world. They can be read as streams of water; as the trajectory of elements under a microscope; or as the path starts leave as the night advances.

The title of this exhibition is an invitation for you to think and feel your own body: to feel your organs, to reflect on your systems. Perhaps in my work you see the connections I intended, and certainly you will see new ones based on your own background. With this art show I hope to challenge your perception of your own body, raise awareness on the instant changes your body is going through, and invite you to experience it with a more open and imaginative way.

Maria Gomez-Umaña
September 2016

Friendship Channel

Friendship Channel was my first collaborative art project with BLINK Art Collective, shown at Chinatown Remixed.

Chinatown Remixed is an initiative by local Ottawa artists to have venues open their doors to artists to show their work along Chinatown venues. This year three BLINK members, Genevieve Cloutier, Jess Alysworth and myself proposed Friendship Channel, project that was selected by the jury. Friendship Channel, is a poem written collaboratively along the silhouette of the water and tributaries of the Ottawa River. We sketched it on paper; designed it using Illustrator, and finally had it CNC cut at Maker Space. Then we painted and and varnished it. We chose red because it is the colour of good luck in China, plus the colour of blood. As Genevieve puts it,

I like red because it's the BLINK Art Collective colour. Also the word red is in the [Friendship Channel] poem... "red oranges"..."  In China, the orange symbolizes life, a new beginning, and prayers and wishes for good fortune"... (…) it also touches on many other symbols that bring up a lot of emotion... love, blood/menstruation, desire...

This piece is shown at the window of Shanghai Restaurant during September and October, as part of the Chinatown Remixed 2016.
Friendship Channel by Blink

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Blink Gallery Season 2016

BLINK summer season is opening on Thursday June 2nd at 7 pm. All the artists from Blink Collective will be showing work, and on September 15th, I will have a solo show called Where is your heart? In both exhibitions I will be showing me new anatomical objects, some hearts and other beautiful organs, vital to our life.

Do you wear your heart on your sleeve? I invite you to come and see where I wear mine!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Art in the School House

We are beginning a new venture: Entrepreneurship in the Arts. Bozica Radjenovic and myself are bringing art to Kanata, finally. We are offering two weekly sessions, one is art classes for teens and the second is live model sessions for adults. They happen four Wednesdays this spring.
Check our our poster and our website! 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Song Mural at Art Place

Art Place is an arts residency organized by Ottawa Arts East Art Council. Alicia Borisonik and I were selected to deliver the program Song Mural at Alexander Community Centre in Ottawa. Starting in November 2015 until February 2016 we had weekly sessions of music and visual arts for a group of teens, 13 to 15 year olds. During the first sessions we collected stories that eventually became a rap song. The music composition took shape in a mural on canvas that is currently displayed at the Community Centre.

Thanks to AOE Arts Council, thanks to the staff at Alexander Community Centre, and many thanks to the youth that participated in this project. We loved it and we would to do it again!

Initial prep for the Blink Show

The Public Library of Ottawa has a new room called Imagine Space where residents can learn how to use and have access to two laser cutters and a 3D printer, for free. I started going last year and this year I am becoming a regular. For my show in September I have been cutting shapes of organs and I have been using the cut-outs as a matrix for printmaking. It is a work in progress and I am very exited to see where this takes me. The show will be called "Where is your Heart?"

Experimental stages

Friday, January 22, 2016

There's Room in Gallery 101

Tomorrow Saturday January 23rd is the opening of the show There's Room at Gallery 101 in Ottawa, where I have an installation called "Connections". I will do a performance during the opening, in which I will be reacting to the interactions with people who approach me. The performance Connections will result in a finished installation that will remain in the gallery during one month. I will post more images and a short video in the weeks to come.

Here is what I wrote for the show:

As a new comer in Canada I am continuously decoding social behaviours, which are natural and unnoticed by local people. Learning how to use these clues is essential for survival, as means to become part of a community. I have been fascinated by different shapes and motifs of interaction between people. In this performance I will have an opportunity to observe and document how people interact with me, or not. As people connect with me I will connect strings from the panel "YOU" to the panel "ME".  If visitors don’t interact with me nothing will happen.

Petra Halkes, the curator of the show, wrote about the name There's Room,

I really like the title of the exhibition that I am curating at Gallery 101, There's Room, inspired as it is by a Cree word for “welcome” that translates to mean There’s Room: “Tawaw” Curator, Cheryl L’Hirondelle, shared this word with us at the We Are Cities roundtable discussion group at Gallery 101, November 28 2015, where we spoke about indigenizing the English language. Check out the event on Facebook.


Monday, November 30, 2015

Failure and Rejection

This year has been a time to learn about rejection. I made a list of all the achievements and the rejections. Curiously enough, 7 successes over 11 rejections does't feel so bad after all: it is 60% success. However, if I had to depend solely on the art made this year I would have made $2,000 total. 

Artshow at The General Fine Craft and Design Gallery
Artshow at Chinatown Remixed
A residency program at ArtPlace AOE
A place as part of Blink, an Artists Collective
Successful fundraiser and bursary for Couple Enrichment Leader Training 
Art Auction to fund the Couple Enrichment Retreat Weekend in January, 2016
Art Show at 101 Gallery for January 2016

Forest School job
Carp Outdoor Program job
Parkdale Montessori School job
Residency EBA project
Carleton Art Gallery Director Assistant job
Canada Council Visual Art officer job
Algonquin College teaching job
Ontario Art Council - Chalmers Fellowship grant
Community Gallery Exhibit 2016 exhibition
Teaching at NVAC (not enough participants)
Teaching at Wallack's (not enough participants)
Ottawa University Art Residency for Faculty of Medicine, job teaching

Failure and Rejection

Failure and Rejection are two different things. Artists have to deal with both, sometimes at the same time, sometimes not. Artists take many blows and are constantly picking themselves up and starting again, when lack of resources, scarcity of support, isolation and loneliness hit hard. The pain of failure and rejection sit inside stubbornly and are difficult emotions to work through.

Failure comes to an artist in the shape of not achieving imagined financial goals; or not being able to accomplish a project as planned; or not finding echo in others for ideas and visions. One way to survive failure is changing direction and aiming again at the same target from a different point of view, or choosing a different target. Taking a look at the scene and learning what we can, picking up the pieces like small trophies, and humbly setting course again in the new chosen direction.

Rejection comes to an artist in the shape of criticism from peers, critics, or institutions. It also comes when not getting positive results with applications for grants, working positions, residencies and exhibitions. Rejection feels like one’s work is unnecessary, unwanted, undervalued, misunderstood, or unimportant. Recovering from rejection takes a huge amount of self-love and self-respect, which is not the same thing as having a big ego. It means seeing your gift to create as unique and valued, and allowing it to speak and develop despite the difficulties. It means separating your need to be loved as a human, from your need to find your voice. They do not go together. They are two different needs. The first one pertains to your family and friends, which we need it to survive and remain sane. The second one would be nice to have, but if not available, the artist needs to be convinced that the work has merit, and it will eventually find echo, a place to live, and an audience that wants it.

No time creating is wasted, despite what some people tell you. Art is not a financial burden on society, on families, on communities. It is the deepest voice of the soul, especially in a world where churches are empty, psychotherapy is expensive, and people are burying their imagination behind pixelated screens. Art is where the needs of our subconscious are met. Human beings are bone and flesh, but also imagination, spirit, dreams, fears, hopes, and ideals. Art is singing with our unique voice, hungry to be heard.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Art Auction for Couple Enrichment

This is an initiative to help us finance a Couple Enrichment Retreat. We want to go to San Jose, CA in January 2016 for a Couple Enrichment Retreat weekend. During the event we would meet with some of the couples that trained with us this summer, and we would see our wonderful mentors, Merry and Peter. To help pay for our trip we put in place the silent auction with some of my art work, during the month of November. On Monday November 30th the auction will be closed. The following week we will deliver the goods to the happy owners.

If you are interested in any of the following items, each one has a detailed description under. Please send me an email letting me know which painting interests you. You may also go to my website and bid:

BID AWAY and thank you for your support!

"Pre p-Mex1", Mixed Media, 10"x10", 2014,  $100

"Prep-Mex 2", Mixed Media, 10"x10", 2014, $100
"Prep-Mex 3", Mixed Media, 10"x10", 2014, $100
"Open Air 1", Mixed Media, 12"x12", 2013, $100
"Open Air 2", Mixed Media, 12"x12", 2013, $100
"ROTO", Mixed Media, 12"x12", 2015, $200
"OPQR", Mixed Media, 12"x12", 2015, $200
"Triptych 1", Mixed Media, 12"x10", 2013, $150
"Triptych 2", Mixed Media, 12"x10'', 2013, $150
"Triptych 3", Mixed Media, 12"x10", 2013,  $150
"Fall Grass", Encaustic on Panel, 12"x14", 2013, $200