Forget paintbrushes: Maria del Mar Granados is making her mark in the art world with comte bars, cloths, spatulas, and sponges. Columbia alumna Mar Granados was selected from droves of contemporary artists to show her work at the Armory Show on March 27-30, 2008.
Mar Granados, who expresses her adoration for Alma Mater through mixed media art and acrylics instead of the traditional blue and white, said, “Columbia opened my eyes, and in my art, it has liberated me. I was more rigid before Columbia, and it taught me to get rid of certain rules and start playing around and having fun again.” Her work quite literally jumps off the page.
Born in Spain, Mar Granados has always had a love for architecture and the vibrant colors of the Mediterranean. She came from an artistically inclined family, having learned at an early age to appreciate the interplay between Spanish art and architecture, claims the two cannot be separated. “When you’re trained as an architect,” Mar Granados said, “you’re trained to look around you and take in everything and transform it into art.”
Mar Granados received more than just a Masters Degree in Architecture while at Columbia. Mar Granados credits Columbia’s multicultural mix and urban energy with her artistic liberation. “Columbia is such an amazing school. It opens your mind in a way that no other school does,” said Mar Granados, “There is a feeling at this school that there is knowledge just floating around, in New York and at Columbia.”
When asked about a favorite professor or class, she raved about Mark Rakatansky and his inspiring power to mix drawing and story-telling with architecture. Maria attributes much of her painting and art to his skills and the architecture program as a whole. She is honored when asked to frequent architecture studios as a visiting critic.
Having commenced her painting career ten years ago while in college in Chicago, Mar Granados described her artistic prerogative to paint with mixed media: “I worked with whatever I could find at the moment.” Choosing to veer away from the simple paint-on-canvas technique, she claims that a flat piece does not allow her to express everything she wants to show. She struggled to encapsulate her style in a few sentences, describing her work as expressionistic and somewhat abstract while incorporating an element of layering in her paintings, because she never visualizes a preconceived piece. Instead, the layers come from trial and error or playing with paint as she tries to encounter what she is looking for. Mar Granados admitted that sometimes she’s surprised at the outcome. Commenting on her layering technique, she said, “You can experience the process in reading the layers. I start in one corner thinking something and by the time I finish in the opposite corner, you are seeing something else completely.”
Between her day job at an architecture studio and her goals—which include spreading her art beyond New York to Miami, the post-Katrina art scene in New Orleans, and the West Coast—it is remarkable that Mar Granados has time to paint. Thankfully, the UGallery, an online gallery geared towards exposing fresh artists, has publicized her art, landing her the spot at the Armory Show. Two of her pieces were selected for the show. The first, November, is typical of her older style, showcasing layers and colors to show expression in the texture of the paint itself. The second piece, which remains untitled, showcases her newer, more subtle style, involving a diagrammatic approach to contours and expressive lines.
Mar Granados most admires artists like Kandinsky, Kirschner, Warhol, and Van Gogh—not because of their style, but because they all broke the rules. “When other people are reading or listening to music, that’s when I’m painting,” she said. “Painting is how I express myself.”
Undoubtedly, Maria del Mar Granados is always in her art, whether that means architecture or painting.