Westminster welcomes visiting artist Maria Korol

Earlier this month, Westminster welcomed Maria Korol as the guest artist for the annual Visiting Artist Program. Korol is a well-known artist, both internationally and within the Atlanta art community. Due to the pandemic, this will be the first time in two years that Westminster has been able to host a visiting artist and display their artwork in Broyles. Korol’s art is considered contemporary figure narration and abstraction, and her show includes ink paintings, sculptures, and stop-motion animations displayed on televisions. The variety of media used in her body of art creates an inclusive atmosphere and allows everyone to appreciate and relate to her work.

Korol’s art is mainly based on personal experiences from her life before she moved to the United States and the cultural history of Latin America. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1980, she studied classical and modern dance in Buenos Aires until the age of 23 and moved to the US in 2004. Since then, Korol’s art has been featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, the Swan Coachhouse Gallery in Atlanta, the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, the Painting Center in New York, and more. She also received the Edge Award from the Forwards Art Foundation in 2020 and is currently a visiting assistant professor at Morehouse College.

A popular piece of her collection in Broyles is the three shelves of dismorphed, ceramic bottles flanked by two abstract ink paintings of people interacting on the streets of Argentina. The painting on the left, La Casa Lujosa de Av. Córdoba (The Luxurious House on Cordoba Avenue), was one of her winning pieces for the 2020 Edge Award. Combined with the bottles and it’s partnering ink painting to the right, this wall of mixed media tells the story of sex trafficking in Argentina. 

“You see in the paintings that the women are not disfigured to the same degree,” said art teacher Pamela Martinez. “They are abstracted, but they are present. They are still human, whereas the men, represented by the bottles, have been degraded to a bottle of alcohol.” 

Although the message of this collection is serious, Korol gracefully and beautifully translates it through the abstraction and metaphor of the bottles and paintings. During her visiting day, Korol gave a demonstration on how to create similar bottles out of recycled ones from home to a Ceramics I class, where students brought in their own empty bottles to create their own abstract ceramic bottle pieces.

Another interesting piece in Korol’s collection is her ink paintings. Most impressively, Korol created these paintings as she went along instead of planning them out before she painted them. 

“She doesn’t have it planned out before she starts and that surprised me,” said visual arts department chair Benjamin Steele. “I can’t believe that she doesn’t have this all planned out when she starts, and with ink, which is not an erasable medium.” 

Korol’s talent goes outside of the boundaries of planning and serves as an important message to students about trusting their intuition when creating art, something that Steele is working to teach his AP Studio Art class. 

“I try to teach my students to go with their gut or go with their intuition,” said Steele. “Any time that you bring a professional artist of that caliber in so students can see how someone has done that, it can make it more easily understandable when we ask students to do that.” 

Through her ability to create such intricate artwork intuitively, Korol reiterated a lesson that AP Studio Art is learning: to find your statement instead of crafting it.

Korol’s exhibit also includes two stop-motion pieces playing on televisions, one being combined with a symphony performing alongside the animation, which many students find intriguing.

“I loved to see music and art come together,” said senior Lauren Fernando. “Hearing the orchestra while seeing the paintings build themselves and then dissipate felt different from a normal art experience. It almost seemed like the pictures and orchestra were working off of each other, when in reality, they were animated prior to the music being added.”

Korol has created an experience that is far outside of the box by working with the symphony to create an in-person performance, and then producing a video afterward that can be experienced by viewers at any time or place.

Maria Korol’s diverse use of media and symbolism of historical and current events have made her collection in Broyles something truly unique and impressive. Make sure to stop by Broyles soon to check out her beautiful pieces!