Taylor Maroney, a figurative oil painter and second-year graduate student at the College of Visual & Performing Arts (CVPA), is the recipient of the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant. The $15,000 grant is awarded to representational painters who are in the early or development stage of their artistic careers.
"I believe creating artwork is about paying close attention and making the invisible visible," says Taylor who has traveled to and taught courses in South Africa and Europe. Her current project explores the social politics of race relations in the U.S.
Responding to inspiration
"Right now, I feel that place that I need to engage with the most is the socialization citizens of the U.S. are subject to regarding race. I am focusing my research on identity formation through race to specifically speak about whiteness. To narrow this field, I am looking at how 'whiteness' is maintained, how the 'white' population is contributing to this maintenance, and how the positionality of the body in society is both a cause and effect of race."
Creating a process
Taylor says the creative process is a practice in making herself a better human in today's society. "For me, making a painting or drawing has always been an act of full body listening. Painting has always been a way for me to connect, engage, and witness. I am interested in becoming aware of the frames that filter my own experience in hopes of gaining a more complex understanding."
Working with faculty
"CVPA faculty members are the reason I chose UMassD, and also the reason I will recommend this school to other artists. As a graduate painter, I was able to select my committee of professors to work with throughout my education," she says.
"I chose to work with Suzanne Schireson, Bryan McFarlane, Pamela Karimi, and Ziddi Msangi because of their varied individual knowledge, experiences, and willingness to delve into critical race theory with me. Their support has given me the foundation to stand on while wading into such a politically charged and oft-polarizing subject."
Teaching & learning
"As a teacher and a student within the educational system, I have benefited greatly from studying institutional racism. We are all living and working within many different overlapping systems, education being one of them."
Taylor also says researching provides me the knowledge to understand the implications of my actions and see where she is contributing. "This is extremely important for me as a teacher, student, and peer."
Being an artist on both sides of the educational experience also gives Taylor a unique vantage point. "Human to human interaction is where change can start to happen, but also where the status quo can be protected and maintained: there is a choice to be made. The system of education has some work to do and I hope to be a set of eyes and ears for what needs changing and then advocate for it."
Planning her future
"Once I've earned my MFA, I plan to continue teaching at the college level, she says. "The classroom is such fertile ground for dialogue and development and I love being a part of it. Eventually, I want to apply for a Fulbright and study in a community that practices and implements restorative justice programs."