Dedication, inner drive, and a passion for discovery are, according to Cuban-American visual artist Maria Elena González (BFA ’80), essential qualities for an innovator. She should know; an internationally acclaimed artist, her work is included in public and private collections throughout the world, and has been exhibited in major museums and galleries in the United States, Switzerland, and her native Cuba. Most recently, her “Tree Talk Series” was included in the 30th Annual Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts at the MGLC-International Centre for Graphic Arts, Ljubljana, Slovenia, where it was awarded the Grand Prize in September.
González has received numerous awards, including the Prix de Rome from the American Academy in Rome and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. She previously taught at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, where she is a board member, the Cooper Union School of Art, F+F School of Art and Media Design, Zürich, Switzerland and Visiting Critic at Yale School of Art. She is the sculptor member of the Public Design Commission of the City of New York.
She earned a BFA from Florida International University in 1980 and an MA in sculpture from San Francisco State University. While at FIU, she was inspired by Ralph Buckley, who taught by example and brought an incredible dedication and sense of discipline to making art that she still abides by today.
When asked about her greatest professional accomplishment, González immediately mentions her studio, the type of “teaching studio philosophy” she herself practices, where interns learn on a hands-on basis. The awards she has received have contributed to maintaining that continuity and are emblematic of her contributions to the field of art. González’s favorite part of her job is the solitude it provides, an atmosphere that “lets [her] concentrate and work through ideas and the process of discovery that eventually culminates into something meaningful.”
A selection of González’s award-winning “Tree Talk Series” is part of the “Against The Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design” is exhibited at the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Art, which opened on October 12th and will run through Jan 20th, 2014.
This article was written by Ashley Garcia, CARTA Advancement and Alumni Relations and Maria Claverie, Assistant Director of CARTA Advancement and Alumni Relations.
Follow FIU Art + Art History on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.