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Maria Hupfield Brings her Performance Art Back to Toronto

November 16, 2012

New York-based artist, Maria Hupfield returned to the GTA last month performing in Toronto and sharing her work with Sheridan students. The 1999 Art and art History grad performed Fixed-Time, a new project for the International Performance Festival at Mercer Union in Toronto on October 25. Before her appearance, Maria spoke with Sheridan Art and Art History students at the Trafalgar Campus about her background and nature of her art. 

Her performance incorporates common items that speak to our times such as industrial felt, emergency life blankets and surveyors flagging tape, explains Maria, “In my new performance Fixed Time I use my body as a vehicle to adapt traditional oral tradition storytelling strategies and address the role memory plays in performance art. I believe we all have a circle surrounding us wherever we go, made up of memories which are held deep in our bones.” 

Born and raised in the Georgian Bay region of Ontario, Maria is of Anishinaabe (Ojibway) heritage, and a member of Wasauksing First Nation. She was a 2012 recent Artist in Residence at Open Studio, Museum of Art and Design in New York, and her work is in the travelling exhibitions Beat Nation (in Toronto next month) and Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3, which appeared at the Museum of Art and Design, New York. 

Maria holds a Master of Fine Art from York University. She taught at Emily Carr University of Art and Design from 2007-2011 before moving to New York City. Having grown up in the vast spaces of northern Ontario, Maria found it shocking at first to live in the dense confines of the city. “Living in such a small space helps you define what you truly need, changing the way you think about your life. It also brings into focus how wasteful our society can be.” 

Although she is very proud of her Anishinaabe heritage, as a contemporary artist Maria isn’t keen to be defined solely by her culture. “I don’t necessarily want to stick a feather in all my work. I wish to be considered a good artist, first and foremost.” 

Sheridan and UTM played a strong role in Maria’s development as a successful artist. “On a practical level, the technicians really helped me grasp how to physically bring my ideas to reality,” she says. Secondly, she is grateful to the instructors for revealing the reality of surviving as an artist. “To this day I carry these lessons with me: surround yourself with experts and remember that others came before you.” 

Check out Maria’s work here: http://mariahupfield.wordpress.com/

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