Maria Mediratta: From UWindsor student to Successful Artist
Maria Mediratta (she/her) is a 25-year-old freelance artist and educator who has been working in Windsor’s Arts & Culture sector for approximately five years. In early March, the Art Gallery of Windsor (AGW) announced that Maria would be one of three emerging artists to participate in the Emerging Artist Residency program generously sponsored by the WindsorEssex Community Foundation.
The AGW Emerging Artist Residency is a paid opportunity for early-career artists in Windsor-Essex that want to learn, grow, develop, and show their art while engaging with the public in a series of community programs. The three artists selected for this year are currently working nonstop until May 30 in the AGW Education Studio. Once they finish the residency, they will have developed digital content and installed an off-site window solo exhibition at the Dry Goods Gallery, at 1012 Drouillard Road, in Ford City.
This opportunity represents an incredible achievement in Mediratta’s career.
“Having the time, space, resources, and support of a paid artist’s residency are incredibly beneficial as an artist,” said Mediratta. “I can put my practice at the forefront of my responsibilities, and being surrounded by other creatives is incredibly motivating.”
However, before Mediratta was one of the selected artists, she already had quite an extensive resume, and it’s because her career as an artist began when she was an undergraduate student at the University of Windsor.
Maria first graduated from UWindsor in 2017 when she completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) in Visual Arts, Communication, Media & Film.
“Having courses in both departments provided a great scope of what creative channels I could pursue,” said Mediratta. “I wanted to learn as much as I could in the courses I enjoyed and build my skills.”
In addition to taking advantage of the variety of courses and absorbing everything she could learn in them, Mediratta also found it crucial to form relationships with her peers and instructors in and outside of the classroom, and eventually, that paid off.
“Expressing my interest in the instructor’s work and being willing to learn beyond the course requirements led to jobs as a research assistant, assistant technician, and graduate assistant,” said Mediratta. “Being invested in the community around you is incredibly rewarding, and I recognize that a year or so into my undergraduate degree.”
However, those opportunities and support didn’t go away once Mediratta graduated. She still managed to connect with her instructors and peers because, at the moment, everyone was sharing too much information about projects, art shows, and job opportunities.
“I also owe a lot of the work I’ve been able to do to my own diligent research,” said Maria. “I’m always looking for new opportunities, and if I don’t see what I’m looking for, I ask! Some of the best partnerships have come from being willing to make that initial connection.”
Mediratta’s relationship with the University of Windsor didn’t end there.
“When I finished my first degree, I knew I wanted to become a professor in the future, so I kept in mind that I should get a Master’s degree,” said Mediratta. “I took a year or so before returning for my Masters of Fine Arts, and I graduated in 2021.”
Her trajectory hopefully inspires students and helps them remember how much knowledge, opportunities, and connections you can obtain at university if you put yourself out there. However, according to Mediratta, forming relations in school is just one way to get new opportunities.
“One big piece of advice I could give to another freelance artist or anyone is to always be on the lookout. Job calls, art calls, and gigs are always being listed or put in a newsletter, so checking in with those resources often will help increase your chances.”
Following that same advice is how Maria obtained the residency at the Art Gallery of Windsor.
“When the AGW announced the Emerging Artist Residency, I read through the details and structured a proposal specifically for this call. Taking the time to tailor a proposal is so important but isn’t always possible depending on your workload,” said Maria. “I knew I wanted to build a professional relationship with the team at AGW, so I made sure to take the extra time to present a proposal that felt solid.”
Sophie Hinch, the Education and Public Programs Coordinator at AGW, has reported feeling excited to see what Maria is working on at the gallery.
“Currently, Maria works onsite at the AGW, and she is creating small studies that will later transform into a larger installation. She is also developing a Mail Art project that community members will be able to contribute to,” said Hinch. Community members can create a work of art, mail it to the gallery or drop it off in person, and the creations will be part of a community installation.”
Sophie Hinch explains why Maria’s work is engaging.
“Maria’s work incorporates themes of community and belonging. She studies her environments, deconstructs them, and restructures them into her works of art, offering viewers a different perspective or way of looking at things around them by using mediums such as printmaking, painting, and illustrations. Maria brings a collaborative and community-oriented approach.”
The artist Maria Mediratta has managed to form a great bond with Windsor and UWindsor’s community that will undoubtedly remain throughout her career.
“The professors from the School of Creative Arts have supported my career as an artist. I know every single instructor had an impact on my personal and professional growth. Professors Sigi Torinus, Victor Romao, and Jose Seoane gave me the best challenges, motivation, and support throughout both my degrees. I am incredibly grateful to have worked with them, and we still keep in touch.”
If you want to support Maria’s artwork, follow her on Instagram @mariamediratta, take a moment to explore her website MariaMediratta.com for upcoming print designs, workshops, and events. In addition, if you are an artistic person, make sure to participate in the Mail Art & Interactivity activity that she is doing in collaboration with the AGW!