Visual Art 8-27-2007

State Fair Winners: Maria Arrazola, Oil and Acrylic Painting

Maria T. Arrazola won First Prize in Painting. Read on for her story.


Maria Arrazola says in her artist statement, “I’m from Bogotá, Colombia. I retired from my profession as a dentist and moved to the United States fifteen years ago. I have spent many years involved in writing, especially poetry. Words can create wonderful images in our minds, but when the book is closed and put on the shelf, they can easily be forgotten.
“I love to sit in my studio and forget everything except the challenge of the canvas. In my paintings I try to capture scenes from my memories and from my imagination. Perhaps the bright colors I use are an antidote to the darkness that occurs on the printed page when the book is closed. Or maybe they are a visual elixir against the darkness and the violence of a world in war that for me seems to be madder than ever.”

What’s the reason you show at the State Fair?
I put my painting in the fair, because a good friend of mine encouraged me to do so.

Have you had any interesting reactions to your work from state fairgoers?

Many people told me that they like the bright colors I use and the originality of the painting. They also are interested in the idea, and always ask what the meaning is of the rooster in the bottle.

How do you make your work?
Normally I sit in front of a blank canvas and make a background. Then I begin to build my painting in acrylic without drawing. (I use only my brush.) Sometimes I come up with an idea, a memory, or an object that inspired me before and I keep it in my mind until I decide to work it in to a painting. But sometimes I have only a feeling or have a strong impression that obliges me to express it in a canvas.

Where do you work and live?

I live in Harris, in the country, eight miles away from Cambridge, Minnesota, and I have a little studio to work in. My studio is also my shelter to listen music, to meditate, to read and write.

How did you become an artist?
My mother was a great painter, so when I was a child I began to draw beside her, and I also learned how to use oils. But many years passed by and I did many other different things in my life. Painting was only a dream, but seven years ago, when I came to Minnesota, I took drawing, watercolor, and oil classes and took my dream seriously.

Do you do your work full time?

No, I’m a full-time student of psychology at Metropolitan University, so I cannot paint full time, as I want to do. But when I finish my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, I hope I can dedicate more time to painting and writing, and perhaps I’ll be able to use my skills in an Art Therapy situation for children with special needs.

What would you like to tell people about your work?

My work is an avocation that has become a passion in my life. Now, I cannot imagine myself without painting and writing. It is also a form of expression that comforts me and helps me to deal with a hard reality, especially in this time of violence and war.