Maura Dwyer: Art that Builds Trust and Relationships

Maura Dwyer ‘12 (Interdisciplinary Sculpture B.F.A.) avoids biographies, as she finds that words do not adequately represent her as an artist. “I eschew labels,” the multidisciplinary artist said. One can see why just by taking a peek at her website. Her broad interests include illustration and design, as well as performance and performative objects.

Even though performance art and theater are her first love and film- and prop-making her second, Dwyer has spent the last few years partnering artists, schools, nonprofits and businesses in socially-engaged projects, such as community murals.

Dwyer is one of eight local artists selected to take part in Neighborhood Lights, the community-based artist-in-residence program for Light City Baltimore 2017. She has been matched with Hamilton-Lauraville in Baltimore, and has teamed up with Hanna Moran and MICA alumna, Lindy Swan ‘14 (Painting B.F.A.). It has been an eye-opening experience about trust and relationships.

“It is amazing to witness the passion behind a collaborative group of residents who dedicate their free time to making Hamilton-Lauraville thrive. I am constantly humbled by the creativity and talent in this neighborhood,” Dwyer shared. “Residents put their trust in me to create a piece of art that will represent their community and bring folks in from all over Baltimore during the festival. That comes with responsibility that I have welcomed to build trust and meaningful relationships,” she added.

This project is already having an impact on Dwyer’s practice. She has learnt how to manage multiple interests in collaborations and is keenly aware of long-term issues, such as longevity and sustainability. “What happens after Light City is over? Why take six months to plan, fund and create an illuminated artwork only to take it down a week after it is installed?,” she questioned. She is particularly conscious of an inclusive approach to ensure she creates a permanent installation the residents will own beyond Neighborhood Lights.

Dwyer, who bases her creations on research, insight and a deep sense of care, expresses her gratitude for this tremendous opportunity, “The chance to receive feedback on my ideas through in-depth conversations, community meetings and voting has been incredibly valuable for me to better understand how my art is interpreted by the public.”