Maria Teicher is an artist born in New Jersey and now residing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Maria has received various degrees including a MFA in fine art from the New York Academy of Art. Maria works in oils and her paintings include figurative and conceptual portraiture. Her instinctual ability to capture the human spirit is apparent when viewing her portraits but it is the portraits known as the “plastic veiled” series that are remarkably empathic and touching. The ongoing series plays on the everyday mask we wear. Her paintings reflect the various stages of distress and vulnerability in modern life. Maria’s subjects wear the “plastic veil” symbolizing the fear and anxiety we feel when allowing the most intimate pieces of ourselves to be known. When asked about her subjects and her “plastic veiled” series, Maria had this to say:
When I look at paintings with people within them, I am always curious to know who these individuals are in relation to the artist. I believe that at times they say much about the artist themselves. Since the “plastic veiled” series presents an intense moment in which a person is portrayed in a state of suffocation, I feel that this person must trust you. Is there a story behind any of the people used for this series and underlying metaphors as to why that particular person was used? There is. In all of my work, I attempt to tell a bit of a story about the person I am painting. Sometimes it is an interpretation of what I feel their role is in my life (or in others’ lives), and sometimes it is more about what they’re going through in their own lives. This series in particular is very much about the personality masks we wear to hide or reveal who we are/what we’re going through. Wearing any kind of veil over who you are can be suffocating. We all do it every day. I am fascinated by the idea and am consistently trying to figure out the personality puzzles of those I am close with.
I only paint my friends and family, so there is always a level of trust there. It’s much easier to build this kind of trust when you already have a foundation to work with. I have been quite surprised by the level of excitement when posing people for this series though. For the most part, my subjects are enthusiastic about taking part of it. It still surprises me.
One of the pieces that I find incredibly striking is “Benevolent.” I think that the anonymity aspect of the piece and the lack of facial recognition say much about feeling disconnected and possibly the need to remain anonymous. A couple of your current additions to the “plastic veiled” series which will be exhibited on October 2nd at Arch Enemy Arts look more statuesque. The piece “On Her Own” even exhibits a religious and iconic characteristic much like the Virgin Mary. What is the story behind this piece and did this “religious iconic” observation ever cross your mind when creating it? The religious aspect definitely crosses my mind each time I sit to begin a new painting in this series. When I originally started doing these, it was only going to be a simple diptych (one in white plastic and one in black). Once those were completed, I started becoming obsessed with the marble veiled sculptures throughout art history. They tend to lean on the religious side or were made for religious purposes. They completely re-inspired the original idea and I started exploring it beyond that first diptych. My overall love of the symbolism of veils (which can read immediately as religious too) also pushed this exploration further.
Have you ever created or thought of creating a self-portrait adding it to the “plastic veiled” series? If so, what would be some things that you would be “masking” and not wanting to be so keenly open about? I have actually created two so far. Each has been depicted with a clear plastic veil. I’m revealing a bit more of myself intentionally. In both, my mouth is not covered. I am not suffocating.
I truly believe everyone hides parts of themselves. It’s difficult and it’s sometimes paralyzing when it’s negative. We do it for a job we don’t love, or to fit in better with others. Sometimes the masks we wear are even positive. My work, my art, reveals so much more about me than I do about myself in everyday life. I think the clear plastic self-portraits are part of that story. I breathe a little easier when creating.
Maria is currently exhibiting her new solo show “Here Together, So Alone” at Arch Enemy Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her work has been exhibited in various group shows including Hersh Fine Art and at Art Southampton in New York City. In addition to her fine art, Maria works as a photographer where her finessed and delicate eye keeps her business and clientele growing. If you would like to view more of Maria’s work, visit her website or you may email her at email@example.com.