I use simple images and rich brilliant color to create art with powerful new harmonies. My love of the beauty of this earth as well as sorrow at how it is threatened compels me to create art that invites deep contemplation. I aspire to be open to my inspiration and its process which is often a struggle on an unpredictable path but always an adventure. I work from a deep well of my imagination, walking with trees and loving leaves and the joy of music.
B.A. and M.F.A. from The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, Other courses at Boston University, The Cambridge Center for Adult Education, Interface, The Kaji Aso Studio, The New England Conservatory, National Training Labs, Bethel, ME, Andover-Newton Theological School, Newton, MA
Katitawa School, Salasaka, Ecuador
The Munroe Center for the Arts, Lexington, MA
The Eliot School, Boston, MA
Spontaneous Celebrations, Jamaica Plain, MA
The Children’s Museum, Sucre, Bolivia
Telstar Adult Education, Bethel, ME
The Art Institute, Boston, MA
The Brookline Arts Center, Brookline, MA
The Cambridge Center for Adult Education, Cambridge, MA
The De Cordova Museum, Lincoln, MA
Boston Public Schools
Putterham Library, Brookline, MA, paintings inspired by Bolivia, 2021
Toichi Ichiman, Brookline, MA, paintings, 2018
Harvest Gallery, Boston, MA, paintings, 2018
AD 20/21, Boston, MA, serigraphs, 2017
Fresh Air, Jamaica Plain, MA paintings, 2016
The Honan-Allston Library, Allston, MA, large landscape paintings,
small watercolors and serigraphs, 2014
Agape Chapel, Ware, MA, acrylic sketches, 2014
The Bean Gallery, Hyde Park, MA, serigraphs and collages, 2012
South End Open Studios, Boston, MA, collages and watercolors, 2011
New Works, New TV, Newton, MA, paintings and watercolors, 2010
Colorsongs, Brookline Arts Center, Brookline, MA, glass tile mosaics, 2007
Singing with Colors, Merrimack College, Merrimack, MA, serigraphs
and collages, 2008
Flying Colors, The Cambridge Multi-Cultural Arts Center, Cambridge,
MA, weavings, fabric applique, quilts, 2003
The Guttman Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 2002
The Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA, watercolors, 2001
The Guild Room, All Saint’s Church, Brookline, MA collage, 2000
Boston Public Library, Jamaica Plain, MA, serigraphs, 1998
Children’s Museum, Sucre, Bolivia, drawings, 1995
University of Massachusetts, Harbor Gallery, Dorchester, MA, 1990
The Helen Shlein Gallery, Boston, MA 1981, collages and serigraphs
Boston University, Boston, MA, serigraphs, 1979
Apogee Gallery, Bethesda, MD, serigraphs, 1977
Merrimack College, Andover, MA, serigraphs, 1974
American Cultural Center, Rome, Italy, serigraphs and paintings, 1972
Off the Square Gallery, Cambridge, MA, serigraphs, 1971
Juried Group Shows
Earned: Women in Business and Labor, Unbound Visual Arts, Scollay
Square Gallery, Boston, MA, digital collages, 2017
Art and Design of the 21st Century, Boston Cyclorama, Boston, MA
Fay Chandler Memorial Exhibition, City Hall Gallery, Boston, MA
Unbound Visual Arts-Open Studio, Brookline, MA, 2016
New England Bio Labs, Beverly, MA, serigraphs, 2015
IMPROVISATIONS, Newbury College, Brookline, MA, weavings
and fabric applique, 2007
The Essential Substance: A Fiber Art Exhibition, Mt. Ida College,
Newton, MA, 2005
The Gallery of Social and Political Art, Boston, MA, 2002 and 2003
Franklin Pierce College, Rindge, NH,“ A Feast for the Eyes”, colored
pencil drawings, 2001
The Boston Printmakers Biennial, Boston University, Boston, MA, 2001
A Soul Stirring Exhibit, Swedenborgian Chapel, Cambridge, MA, 2001
and following years
Yale Medical School, New Haven, CT, Visions Towards Wellness, 2000
Innovative Moves Gallery, Boston, MA, 1999
African-American Artists-in-Residence, Northeastern University,
Boston, MA, 1983
Boston Visual Artist’s Union, Boston, MA, 1979-84, juried shows
Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA 1979
Cambridge Art Association, Cambridge, MA, 1978
The Society of Washington Artists, Smithsonian, Washington, DC,
The De Cordova Museum, The Fogg Museum, New England Telephone, First National Bank of Boston, Harvard University, American Embassy in Rome, The Boston Public Library, The Children’s Museum in Sucre, Bolivia, and many non-profits, including Pine Street Inn, The New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans, The Cambridge YWCA, Codman Square Health Center, and also in many private collections
Porcelain enamel frieze for the Quincy Elementary School in Boston.
Murals for the city of Boston: Fields Corner and Oak Square
Murals in the Children’s Museum in Sucre, Bolivia and in the rural
communities of Molle Punku and Talula
Designs and illustrations for Houghton-Mifflin, Lotus Software, and
Banners for Harvard University and Boston’s First Night
Illustrations for El Cuento del Karai by Fiori Zulli
The Woodrow Wilson Fellowship
The Blanche Coleman Award (2x)
Artist in Residence, Boston Public Schools
The Brookline Arts Council
The Boston Arts Council,
Archives of The National Museum of Women in the Arts
First Night, Boston, 2013, winner of the logo competition
Jamaica Plain Art Association
Unbound Visual Arts
Newton Open Studios
Boston Visual Artists Union
Brookline Open Studios
Habitat for Humanity and the US Peace Corps
Maria Termini is the author of five books, Silk Screening, Solitude and Splendor: Living in the Schoolhouse, The Artist and the Spy, Driving Curiosity: On the Road in Central America andThrough the Mountains to the Stars, as well as many poems, stories, and essays.
I have been enthralled by the rich colors achieved in creating many original, limited edition, serigraphs, also known as silkscreen prints. The process of serigraphy involves making stencils for each color, very precise aligning of the colors which are usually printed separately and close attention to the many details which enhance the creative image. The stencils are made of glue or paper and are destroyed after printing which makes these prints a truly limited edition. The special inks used in the serigraphy process are thickly applied as they are pushed through the stencil to the paper below with a rubber squeegee guided by the skilled hands of the artist. As a result these serigraphs have rich layers of vibrant color. I have taught serigraphy and am the author of the book, Silk-Screening.
I use the traditional techniques of weaving and stitching to produce bold, new works that shout in joy with new leaves, flowers, and cities of blocks of color. Creating these works is a meditative process in which I use my hands to slowly stitch and weave. Touching the fabric and strips with my fingertips makes the work very intimate. There is a dancing rhythm to the marks made by the needle as it joins with thread the cut-out shapes. As I weave and pass the strips of fabric over and under the warp threads, I feel as if I am playing music on a harp and creating new harmonies as I combine things in different ways.
My work in collage emerged from the process of tearing and cutting up serigraph prints I had made. I was mesmerized by the act of moving the new pieces around and re-combining them in ways I could never imagine were I to use paper and pencil to plan things ahead of time. Interesting things happened visually in this process of spontaneous improvisation. I was delighted to discover a new world of rich color and fantastic shapes where flowers grew to extremes, fruit and plants flourished extravagantly and the landscape became drenched in vibrant color and lush with heat and snow, sometimes at the same time. In these places released from my imagination, dancers flew about purple skies surrounded by leaves and stars, and small patterned squares danced in paper quilts and anything was possible. It was like jazz in color.
I first visited Bolivia as a Peace Corps volunteer. Since then I have lived and traveled extensively in this amazing colorful and musical country where many ancient indigenous traditions continue to be practiced by the Aymara, Guarani and Quechua peoples. My experience of Bolivian culture and also of wandering through mountains that glow richly with earth colors has inspired my art. In my former work at the Children’s Museum in Sucre, Bolivia and as a member of the Bolivian Rock Art Society (SIARB) I have come under the spell of a treasure of prehistoric images, both painted and engraved, that speak intuitively of a magic reality of sun, stars, gods, intertwined with an everyday reality of harvest, hunting, and fertility.
Art, Adventure and Activism
I fell in love with colors as a child working in my father’s upholstery shop as I gently touched the vibrant samples of velvets and brocades and sensed delight with my eyes as well as my soul. I sat on the concrete floor and spent hours moving the small pieces of magenta, grape, olive, pumpkin, gold, and other delicious colors into all possible combinations. I dreamed of being an artist and using all these colors in my own paintings. I have followed this dream and have been painting most of my life. This is what I need to do. With a loaded brush in my hand I feel the perfect rightness of my destiny to be an artist.
I attended an all-girls high school, in Bethesda, Maryland. I practically lived in the art room where I had easy access to many art materials. I used cut paper and was able to liven up the school’s dull hallways with bold cut paper displays on religious themes tacked onto the bulletin boards. In 1959, I entered Catholic University with a major in art. I soon left a hectic home and moved to an apartment near school. My parents didn’t support me or contribute to my tuition, but I was able to work in drugstores and on campus to earn enough money to survive. It wasn’t easy. I was working full-time and going to school full-time often with early morning classes, but my enthusiasm for art, literature, drama, poetry, and even the required philosophy courses gave me energy. When I started the hands-on studio classes, I was in my true element, intoxicated by the colors as well as the smell of turpentine. I painted all I could and even figured out a way to sneak into the art building to paint past midnight. Each painting provided me with seeds to inspire the next painting. I studied with Washington Colorist Kenneth Noland for two years, but I knew that I had already developed my unique love of color. I also studied with Nell Sonneman for painting, Claire Fontanini for sculpture and Alex Giampietro for ceramics. Of course, my other great teachers were my classmates, which included Martin Puryear. I consider the lessons we learned from each other to be enriching and invaluable. I graduated in 1963 with a BA, and then went on to get an MFA in 1965. I was lucky to get a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship for free tuition in graduate school. I first exhibited in 1964 as part of a group show at the Adams-Morgan Gallery in Washington, DC. I also participated in many student shows and a juried show at the Smithsonian.
In late 1965 I moved to New York City not so much for its bustling art scene, but for a chance to blend into the crowd and to think clearly about choices for a future which would soon be life changing. I gave birth to healthy twin boys in April of 1966 and soon moved to Boston with their father. Twins took a lot of my time and energy for the next four years but I continued to do art. I had no money for materials, but I managed to use images and scraps of color from old magazines to make collages. In 1969 I was able to set up a printmaking studio in an unused bedroom where I would work at night when my children were asleep. I fell in love with the process of serigraphy (also known as silk-screening) and the brilliant colors of the printing inks. I began to create limited edition prints, inspired by plants, flowers, apples and valentines. Soon I began to exhibit in some local galleries and to teach art at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education and the Brookline Arts Center.
When my troubled relationship with the father of my children ended in 1970, I moved to a larger apartment with my children where I had a bigger studio space. I picked up more teaching jobs and produced original prints at a furious pace, always inspired by the process and the colors. I received no child support and it was a real challenge to survive and support my children and still do that which was most important to me: creating art. In 1971, I had my first one-person show at the Off the Square Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I also painted two murals for Boston’s Summerthing public art program. I liked having my art large, almost three stories high.
In 1972, I moved to Italy for a year with my twins and lived in a tiny village called Vicovaro. In this peaceful rural area, I produced many oil sketches as well as editions of serigraphs, art inspired by the rich vistas of endless mountains, the Tiber River, neatly plowed fields, and ancient twisting olive trees. I had one-person shows at the American Cultural Center in Rome and a gallery in Trastevere. My children and I backpacked through many other countries, including Israel and Morocco. This trip opened my eyes to landscapes and cultures in exciting new ways.
Back in Boston, I continued a vigorous pace of raising twins, teaching, exhibiting and doing art. I perfected my printmaking skills and wrote the book Silk Screening, published by Prentice-Hall in 1977. In 1978 I was commissioned to create a porcelain enamel frieze for a new school in Boston. This work has two hundred large panels and features images from children’s artwork. I continued to produce many editions of serigraphs (silkscreen prints.) I also became active in the Boston Visual Artists Union and worked with many other artists to develop exhibit opportunities and secure our rights as artists. The union was the focus of my life for the next six years. I held various offices, was editor of our newsletter and became Secretary General. I participated in many Union shows, local group shows, and one-person shows. Around 1980, I began to make collages, large bold weavings, and applique pieces from clothes I found in the trash. Teaching was especially important to me because I learned so much from my students and their unique responses to the visual exercises I suggested.
As I became aware of artists’ rights from many Union discussions, I began to see the larger picture of human rights and the need for social and economic justice. My twins graduated from high school in 1985, and I was finally not responsible for them on a daily basis. I took to the road and drove from Boston to Nicaragua in a VW bus. This year-long trip was a revelation of the poverty, endurance, and kindness of the people in Central America. In Nicaragua, my art became serious sweaty carpentry as I worked as a long-term Habitat for Humanity volunteer with local families as we built sturdy houses. I was glad to help poor people with my labor. When I returned to Boston, I worked as a volunteer coordinator and construction supervisor with Habitat in Boston. I continued doing my own art and exhibiting, and gained a deeper appreciation of nature from backpacking trips to Maine following the deeply forested Appalachian Trail.
In 1990, I moved to an old one-room schoolhouse in the White Mountain National Forest in Western Maine. Here I found a perfect environment, rich with the drama of nature and creative solitude. For two years I didn’t have a day job and had time to intensely explore new directions in my art: drawing and watercolor, using shadow and light, and new imagery from living surrounded by trees and silent deer. With these new works, I reflected celebration, visual prayer and reverence for the earth.
I lived in Maine for four years and then responded to a need to stretch by joining the Peace Corps in 1995. Bolivia delighted me with its colorful people, indigenous cultures and stirring music echoing the Andean wind. I worked with the Tanga Tanga Children’s Museum in Sucre where I taught art and coordinated projects about pre-historic rock art, crafts and different aspects of Bolivian life. I was blessed to learn so much. Working at the museum was a perfect place for me to use my skills as an artist. While in the Peace Corps, I made many sketches of the countryside and its dramatic mountains, working in watercolor, pastel and colored pencil.
When I returned to the Boston area in 1997, I was stunned at the high rate of inflation. I got steady work in the Boston Public Schools as a substitute teacher and continued painting in acrylics and oils as well as watercolors. I sold some art to Harvard’s Fogg Museum and the Boston Public Library. With the help of the Art Connection in Boston and Rhode Island, I have donated about five hundred serigraphs and watercolors to many non-profits, who frame the work and hang it in their offices where their clients can enjoy it. While I don’t get paid for these works, I do get a great sense of satisfaction from knowing my art is where it can be appreciated and that it can cheer up people who are often at a troubled time in their lives. Music is also a big a part of my life. I am a soprano and play guitar and piano and perform as much as possible.
Currently I live well with simple abundance as I paint, write, sing and work for things I believe are important. My conscience for social justice motivates me to continually advocate for a better world. I’ve volunteered with Boston’s Ecclesia Ministries in pastoral care at a nursing home and also at Common Cathedral and Common Art, a dynamic community in which homeless people are able to explore their creativity through the visual arts.
The process of making art is always an exciting adventure full of surprises. Inspiration is my constant companion. I believe art, whether it is painting, words or music is important in all our lives. Art gives us much needed beauty and meaning and can motivate us to work for good things, like peace and justice.