I grew up in Ireland, in Dublin and then Wicklow and my heritage is a defining part of my identity. In the midst of one of the worst economic moments in the country, I left Ireland in 1986. Unemployment was skyrocketing, there were no jobs and thousands of people were emigrating. At the time I didn’t realise just how bad things were or that I was part of a generation of loss—the loss of loved ones from their families and communities and the daily lack of those communities and families, home, landscape, everything familiar to those of us who had to leave. Like most immigrants, this loss has never left me and has woven itself into a hybrid-like existence in the U.S. where I currently live. I am neither here, fully American, nor there fully Irish living as a hybrid person.
The short stop motion video All She Carried is a work I made at the School for the Visual Arts in New York where I’m currently studying for a Masters in Fine Arts in Art Practice. This short video humorously and poignantly explores my journey and the sole nostalgic item I carried with me—a kelly green Aran sweater knit by my beloved granny.
Above: “All She Carried” by Maria Markham
2022, video 1 min 20 sec
The in-between space, the neither here nor there quality of my identity as an immigrant, is something I am exploring in my work. This otherness is a perspective that I value and has provided me with many opportunities to understand life differently. This entanglement with both cultures and the complexity of being an immigrant in the US at this moment seeps into many of the drawings, paintings, videos and writing. The video Shroud with voiced-over narrative poem explores some of this complex emotional and visceral landscape.
Above: “Shroud” by Maria Markham
2021, video 2 min 46 sec
Lately, my explorations have turned to the anthropogenic disasters that we are facing. The drawings from the Contemplating Loss project in my portfolio reflect these preoccupations but also offer hope at our ability to “make with” the non-human creatures that share the planet with us and the remarkable beauty of the natural world. This concern with the impact of human activity on our planet is also reflected in an exhibit I recently co-curated at the Gramercy Gallery of SVA in New York: “Sympoietic Encounters: Making With-in the Sixth Great Extinction.”
Above: Installation view of “Sympoietic Encounters: Making With in the Sixth Great Extinction” exhibit featuring work (from left to right) by James Jaxxa, Maria Markham, Erin Hayde and Luis Valenzuela.
I currently live in New Haven, Connecticut with my family. A career spanning 30 years in the nonprofit sector working to try to solve problems like hunger, health care and social engagement has given me a keen and profound sense of what is not working well for people in the U.S. Because of my commitment to social justice and equity, along with this professional experience, my work also wrestles with questions of brokenness and creative solutions for the future.
Born in Ireland, I am a visual artist living in Connecticut in the United States. One of my main preoccupations in my work is with the Anthropocene and the injustices and failures of capitalism: the climate crisis, the current U.S. and global economic inequities and instabilities, unbalanced power structures and socio-cultural anxieties and upheavals. Working primarily in multimedia, installation, and video montage, I explore these interests through ecology, physiology, migration and my Irish heritage. I am also interested in interrogating what we carry unbeknownst to us within our souls, psyches and bodies. I centre these concerns in the body because this is our most fundamental starting place.
As an immigrant, I am deeply curious about movements and evolutions of people, animals, plants and place through space and time. These curiosities have led me to create with other species and consider alternate temporalities and futurisms. My work asks the viewer to think about what is and what might be possible.
Drawing on my Irish heritage, I also focus on reactivating ancient images, not with a nostalgia for the past, but to see how they might inform the present. Ancient animist images, rituals and idols offer interesting possibilities in conversation with new directions and thinking in art and beyond.
My work explores the nature of life and alternate and speculative futures posing new ideas for sustainable growth, cooperation and survival in multimedia that includes sculpture, fibre, drawing, video and writing.
Above: “Contemplating Loss V16” by Maria Markham
2022, Paper and ink, , 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm
- School of Visual Arts, New York, NY in first year of 2 year Master of Fine Arts program (2022-2024)
- The Alternative Art School, Online, 2021 (Various courses including with Hito Steyerl, Janine Antoni, Yael Bartana and Marinella Senatore)
- Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, NS and University of Toronto
- Scarborough, ON 2021 Socio-ecologies and Economies of Latin American Migration
- New York Studio School, Mar 2021 Painting/Drawing Marathon (With Graham Nickson)
Studies from 1995 to 2002
- The Corcoran College of Art and Design, Washington, DC (Painting/Drawing with William Christenberry)
- The Art League, Alexandria, VA (Painting)
- The Museum School, Boston, MA (Printmaking, Painting)
- The Art Institute of Boston, MA (Painting)
- Montserrat College of Art, Beverly, MA (Drawing)
- Harvard Extension, Cambridge, MA (Art History, Writing)
- Masters Nonprofit Management (MBA equivalent) Brandeis University, Waltham – 1992
- B.Sc. (Human Nutrition and Dietetics) Trinity College/Technical University Dublin, Ireland – 1987
- The Alternative Art School, Artist Group Exhibition, Online Aug-Sep 2022
- Sympoietic Encounters: Making With in the Sixth Great Extinction, SVA Gramercy Gallery, New York, NY, Upcoming Jan 2023 (Co-curating and exhibiting)