Dye Practice with Honor and Respect
Maria Calderon has spent her entire life dedicated to studying Andean fiber arts and weaving from the Andean highlands where her fathers Quechua relatives reside. As someone who respects traditional crafts, Maria did not work specifically in these traditional forms of her ancestors until she felt she could approach the forms with respect and honor. She observed and studied traditional weaving styles, motifs, and plant dyes, and referenced them in her paintings for nearly 13 years before she focused on creating the plant color that inspired her paintings. She regards traditional dyeing as a sacred practice with great cultural weight and energy.
About the Artist
As a Quechua Peruvian American, my work reflects my lineages history of Folk Art and Craft in relation to Ayni, which means sacred reciprocity in Quechua. My Father is a traditional Andean folk musician and my mother studied Fiber Art with the Huichol and Quechua. I was raised in a Renaissance festival and International Cultural fair atmosphere in Kansas, and was exposed to international indigenous craft at a young age. My current research focuses on indigenous cultures and their correlating ethnobotany. The past 10 years my concentration has focused on Natural Dyes, and before that I was studying folk art narrative painting from around the world. My current focus is studying the ethnobotany of the salt marsh biome we reside in within the southeast. The past 5 years I have been creating plant extractions to create pure pigments from plants to develop a balanced palette of plant hues, and creating my own plant paints.
Maria Calderon is an interdisciplinary Folk Artist from Shawnee, Kansas. She studied Tuscan Renaissance Art, Etruscan History, Bookmaking, and Traditional Paper-making in Cortona, Italy in 2005. She graduated from North Park University in Chicago, IL with a Bachelors in Fine Art, focusing on Painting and International Indigenous/Pre-columbian Art History in 2006. She was a studio resident with Charlotte Street Foundation in 2008. She was an Artist in Residence and held Lectures at Harold Washington College in Chicago Illinois in 2011. She was an Associate Professor at University of Kansas City Missouri’s Art Department from 2011-2013. In 2012 Maria Studied Business Art Development with Artist Inc. through the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City in association with Creative Capital. Maria spearheaded Yoga in the Park at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in their Sculpture garden in 2009, which continues today, in 2023. She co-created Pop! A series of social happenings funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation and Charlotte Street Foundation. She was awarded the Midwestern Voices and Visions award in 2013. At her residency at Ox-bow School of Art in 2013 she taught herself how to work with natural dyes in a full spectrum of colors and began her journey with a completely plant based palette. 2013-2023 she has been creating natural dye installations and curating instructors around the world for the Yoga, Sound Healing, and International Sacred Dance classes of an ancestral skills gathering called, Spirit Weavers Gathering. She illustrated and released her first book centered on mothers evolution during pregnancy titled, “How You Made Mama a Magical Mystical Miracle!” Her book debuted at The Museum of Contemporary Art of Detroit, in 2014. Since 2014 She has been working exclusively with animal and plant fiber, developing a palette from plant materials, as well as working with various types of Fiber Art. In December 2017 she was a victim of the Thomas Fire above Ojai, California, and lost her home and studio to the fire. The Joan Mitchell Foundation, Craft Emergency Relief Fund, Adolf and Ester Gottlieb Foundation, and The Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation have all contributed to Maria’s rebuild of her home studio and total business loss. Maria utilizes various mediums, depending on the subject matter and intention including; Photography, Performance, Video, Airbrush, Painting, Textile surface design, hand building, Weaving, Natural Dyeing, Spinning and Sewing. Much of Maria’s work has been focused on community connection, ethnobotany, and seasonal localized environmental consciousness. As a result of the recent natural disaster she experienced, Maria’s passion for encouraging land preservation, ancestral skills, plant medicine, and biodiversity in her work has become a priority.