Maria Calandra

I am making two bodies of work in tandem. One has been ongoing for the past 7 years and exists online as a social media project as well as in the studio as part of my art practice. The other took hold last summer and is being made in response to the natural world around me, and in some ways, is a vehicle for me to counter the horrible turn this country has taken in the past few years.

The subject of my Pencil in the Studio drawings is the artwork, studios, and lives of my contemporaries. My work is a conceptual and traditional take on drawing through the use of formal technique and social media. I visit artists in their studios for a full day, talk with them about their practice and life as a working artist, and draw their space. I write about their artwork and the experience of spending the day with them and post it to my blog titled: Pencil in the Studio along with photographs of their studios and images of the drawings. My drawings become an intimate look inside the artist’s space, both physically and psychologically. They are a study of detail — from the rag that slips under the corner of a painter’s table to the hidden collaged element found on the multi-layered surface of a canvas. I become aware of the artists’ work and process layer by layer, giving both the lengthy evaluation it takes to transform it into not only grey scale, but also my own.

Pencil in the Studio also serves as a historical record of the artists of our time in NYC and elsewhere. It is a way of bringing the human experience to the forefront of art and art making. Working while talking to my companion for the day, not only changes my experience of making, but also adds to the personality of the work. The drawings take on a life of their own and act as a recording of the artist and their studio at this particular time in history. I have made over 90 visits with both established artists and emerging. I plan to continue this project indefinitely.

In my other body of work I am using a mix of graphite and liquid graphite, on panel, to explore the medium through both rendering and brushwork. Channeling a stream of consciousness, I work from my memory, images I have captured while hiking, and my imagination to reconstruct a surreal version of my experiences in the great outdoors. I hope to make connections between nature remembered and directly observed. I aim to liberate my thoughts and experiences from any boundaries of the rational. I play with perspective to create portals, hint at mirrored images and distort traditional ideas of landscape paintings. Hovering orbs represent possible beings looking down on us from an outside universe and dashed white paths represent my journeys through the varying fantasy-scapes I can only dream to live in. I draw the animals I have seen, or have hoped to see, on my hikes and while drawing them I imagine they are my friends. These beings have a strong presence in the work — appearing and disappearing as they do in their habitats. In the end, like many of us, I look to nature and my imagination for solace and escape. I hope that my viewers can do the same.


Born, London, England 1976
Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY

MFA 2006, Painting, Cornell University
BFA 1999, Painting, Ohio University

Select Exhibitions
106 Green Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (solo show forthcoming)
Summer Group Show, Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery, New York, NY
The Mushroom, curated by Letha Wilson, Upstate, NY
Three person show, General Hardware Gallery, Toronto, Canada
Actually Weird, Underdonk, Brooklyn, NY
Wall Drawing, Lobby of the Wythe Hotel, Brooklyn, NY (solo)
Squared x2, Geoffrey Young Gallery, Great Barrington, MA
Weekend, Mindy Solomon, Miami, FL
Parting and Together, curated by Trudy Benson, Greenpoint Hill, Brooklyn, NY
Secret Life of Plants, Freight and Volume, New York, NY
Wythe Hotel Collection, Wythe Hotel, Brooklyn, NY
Salami Salon, ROE Projects, Brooklyn, NY
Inaugural Exhibition Romeo, Romeo, New York, NY
World Made by Hand, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY
Artists for Woman’s Rights, Safe Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
The Oasis, Gitler &_____, New York, NY
Summer Flats, Shrine, New York, NY
Super Sketchy, Alleyoop Projects, New York, NY
New Drawings, Sardine, Brooklyn, NY (solo)
HOUSE, Geoffrey Young Gallery, Great Barrington, MA
Salon Society Edition 2, curated by Fabiola Alondra, Brooklyn, NY
#FFFF2 (Fifteen Fragments For Feature), White Columns, New York
I am What I am Not Yet, Madelyn Jordon Fine Art, Scarsdale, NY
Mercury Rising, Mulherin New York, New York, NY
Wagers, Essex Flowers, New York, NY
SPACES, Sierra Nevada College, Incline Village, NV (solo)
Key Party, Orgy Park, Brooklyn, NY
Moore College of Art Design, Philadelphia, PA
By Invitation Only, Kinz + Tillou Fine Art, Brooklyn, NY
SPRING/BREAK, Old School, New York, New York
Pencil in the Studio, Sardine, Brooklyn, NY (solo)
Typhoon Haiyan Relief Auction, The Lodge, NY, NY
Cat Camp, Helper, Brooklyn, NY
Giacometti and Contemporary Drawing, Norte Maar, Brooklyn, NY
Thank You, Lu Magnus Gallery, NY, NY
Can’t Stop Rock Lobster, Shoot The Lobster/Martos gallery, New York,
NY WAVERS, curated by EJ Hauser and Rob Nadeau, Brooklyn, NY
Haywire, STOREFRONT, Brooklyn, NY
Temporary Antumbra Zone,
Janet Kurnatowski Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
New Year, New Work, New Faces, STOREFRONT, Brooklyn, NY

Awards and Residencies

2016, Wythe Hotel Residency, Brooklyn, NY
2017, 2015, Nominated for the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant
2015, 2013 DNA Summer Residency, Provincetown, MA
2004-2006 Full Art Fellowship, Cornell University1996-1998 The Francis M. Paulson Scholarship, Ohio University
Maake Magazine Issue 4, 2017
Fukt Magazine for Contemporary Drawing, Issue 14, Germany, 2015

New York Times. Inaugural Group Exhibition at Romeo. Roberta Smith, April 22, 2016 Time Out New York. Listed as one of the “12 Talents shaping the future of New York City’s culture”. 20th Anniversary Issue, September 23, 2015
Time Out New York. Jennifer Coates, Review, June 19, 2015
New York Sun. Xico Greenwald. Inside the Artist’s Studio, May 23, 2013
Wall Street Journal. Lizzie Simon. Absorbing Inspiration From Her Fellow Artists. May 20, 2013

Guest Lecture and Visiting Artist
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Columbia University, New York, NY
The New School, New York, NY
Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, NYSchool ofVisual Arts, New York, NY
Fordham University, New York, NY
Sara Lawrence College, Bronxvillle, NY
Sierra Nevada College, Lake Tahoe, Nevada Cuddle Works, Reno, Nevada
Hunter College, New York, New York
California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA