Maia Cruz Palileo

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What is my work about?

Migration and the permeable concept of home are constant themes in my paintings. Influenced by oral history of my family?s arrival in America from the Philippines and growing up in the Midwest, I infuse these narratives with memory and imagination. When stories and memories are subjected to time and constant retelling, the narratives become questionable, bordering the line between fact and fiction while remaining cloaked in the convincingly familiar.


Artist Statement

Frozen in a state of unresolved mystery, my paintings reveal the quiet culture of family secrets and the shadows they cast on the present. Lush tropical landscapes of the Philippines appear bright green and turquoise while muted orange and brown describe kitschy 70s interiors and expansive skies of the American Midwest. These paintings blur fact and fiction and uncover what is left unsaid. Empty chairs are fill-ins for missing people recently departed or anticipated to return. Details are imprecise and distorted, allowing for a loose narrative that borders familiarity, distance, inclusion, and erasure. Evoking a hybrid sense of place, they serve as a metaphor for migration and assimilation.

Photographs and videos of places where my family has lived are resources for my paintings, specifically Manila, Philippines, and Chicago, Illinois. As a child of immigrants who moved to America in search of a better life, I adopted a hyphenated concept of home. My relativesʼ oral history painted a carefully constructed picture of the people and country they left behind. Words were added as embellishment and others intentionally left out. The tradition of passing down oral history is one of improvisation, relying on memory and imagination to fill in the gaps. The more these stories were repeated, the more questionable they became.

My painting process mirrors this method of storytelling by editing and censoring visual information. They are re-constructions based on a mixture of photographic references and retrospection. Made up of layers of thin oil paint, some areas accumulate, creating thick, palpable textures, representing parts constantly retold. Other areas remain thin and transparent, reflecting information withheld, bringing to light aspects of history that remain silent and untold, lost in the transference of migration. These paintings offer glimpses into a domestic life tinted by absence, silence, separation, and longing.




2008 MFA, Sculpture, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, Brooklyn, NY

2001 BA, Studio Art, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA

Solo Exhibitions


Lost Looking, Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space, New York, NY (upcoming)


Lolaʼs House, Soapbox Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

Selected Group Exhibitions


Studio Sessions, Old American Can Factory, Brooklyn, NY

Secret City, Dixon Place, New York, NY


Pluto, Present Company, Brooklyn, NY

Potluck Situation, chashama, Brooklyn, NY

40th Anniversary Lesbian Herstory Archives Benefit, Alexander Gray Associates, New York, NY

The Peopleʼs Laundromat Theater by Shani Peters, The Laundromat Project Create Change Residency Project, Harlem, NY


This House is Not a Home, curated by Laura Shaeffer and John Preus, South Side Hub of Production, Chicago, IL

Soldierʼs Tale, Composerʼs Alliance at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, NY

Miniature Quartet, Composerʼs Alliance at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, NY


View Finder, curated by Eun Young Choi, ArtGate Gallery, New York, NY

Bronx Calling: The First AIM Biennial, curated by José Ruiz and Wayne Northcross, The Bronx Museum of the Arts and Wave Hill, Bronx, NY

Penetrating the Space, HERE Art Center, New York, NY

The Aljira Fine Art Auction, Aljira A Center for Contemporary Art, Newark, NJ

Fenced and Stitched, International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP), Brooklyn, NY

Shakeout IV: Life Preservers curated by Jessica Shaefer, Marina 59, Far Rockaway, NY

Mining Between, Arts @ Renaissance, Brooklyn, NY

Studio LLC Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, Jamaica, NY


About Me:, curated by Nora Lawrence, Bronx River Art Center, Bronx, NY

Penetrating the Space, Dixon Place, New York, NY

Curate NYC, Rush Arts Gallery, Essex Street Market, New York, NY

Crown Heights Film Festival, Five Myles, Brooklyn, NY

The Sea Giveth, The Sea Taketh Away, curated by Jessica Shaefer, Marina 59, Far Rockaway, NY


Joan Mitchell Foundation 2008 MFA Grant Recipients, CUE Art Foundation, New York, NY

Linking Language and Lexicons, Literally and Laterally, Bushwick Beta Spaces, Brooklyn, NY


MFA Thesis Exhibition, New York Center for Art and Media Studies, New York, NY

Night of 1,000 Drawings, Artists Space, New York, NY

Awards / Residencies


Millay Colony for the Arts, Austerlitz, NY (upcoming)


Studio Program at Brooklyn Army Terminal, chashama, New York, NY


Outstanding Innovative Design, Nominee, New York Innovative Theater Awards, New York, NY


New York Art Residency & Studios (NARS) Foundation, Brooklyn, NY

Studio LLC, Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, Jamaica, NY


Artist in the Marketplace (AIM 30), The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY


Astraea Visual Arts Fund Award, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, New York, NY


Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant, Joan Mitchell Foundation, New York, NY

Joseph Skinner Fellowship in Art, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA


Charles G. Shaw Memorial Award for Excellence in Painting, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY

Graduate Investment Program Research Grant, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY



Webster, Andy, Support From a Love Sprite and Some Fractured Friends, New York Times, October

Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, Edited by Heng-Gil Han and Lori Otiz, 2011 Studio LLC, December

Holtje, Steve, Cheerful Insanity: Chao and Katzberg in Repertory,, October

Valdez, Aldrin, March Artist of the Month: Maia Cruz Palileo, BRIC Contemporary Art, March


Armetta, Amoreen, 2008 Joan Mitchell Foundation Recipients Exhibition Catalogue, June

Sering, Tara FT, Looking Homeward, Contemporary Art Philippines Magazine, Feb-March

Guest Artist / Artist Panel


ArtGate Gallery, View Finder, Artist Talk

Wave Hill, Bronx Calling: The First AIM Biennial, Artist Talk


Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, 2010-2011 Visual Arts Fund Award, Panelist

Bronx River Art Center, About Me:, Artist Talk

Mount Holyoke College, Visiting Artist Lecture

Asian American Arts Centre, ArtSlam


2008- Joan Mitchell Foundation, New York, NY

Present Artist Teacher, 2008 – Present, Student Exhibition Coordinator, 2011 – 2013

2014 Art Ready, Mentor, Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY

2013 The Laundromat Project, Works in Progress Teaching Artist, New York, NY

Easton Mountain, Arts in the Woods, Visual Art Instructor, Greenwich, NY

2011 Brooklyn College, City University of New York, Adjunct Lecturer, Brooklyn, NY

3D Design, Advanced Sculpture, Spring 2011, Sculpture I, Fall 2011

2010 Rutgers University-Newark, Co-Adjunct Professor, Newark, NJ

Introduction to Painting, Figure Drawing, Painting and Drawing Workshop, Independent Study, Fall 2010