The Oracles' Silence

María Berrío

Maria Berrio’s large collaged works—comprised of diversely sourced papers, depict surrealist narratives that blur biographical memory with South American mythology. Her work explores themes such as intercultural connectivity, migration and humankind’s relationship to nature. Populated predominantly by women, Berrio's art often appear to propose spaces of refuge or safety, kaleidoscopic utopias inspired in part by South American folklore, where humans and nature coexist in harmony. To these apparently idealised scenes, Berrio brings to light the hard realities of the current political climate in America. Here are a few words from Maria on this piece: "I started these works as a creative challenge. Usually the figures in my work face forward and confront the viewer directly. Here, I sought strategies to create visual impact without the benefit of face-to-face confrontation. I always use clothing to build presence; here I also relied heavily on color. The bright red clothes feel less like garments and more like suits of armor. One gets the sense that these women are prepared to stand strong in the face of adversity. The braids are another way for the figures to assert personhood. Across cultures, braids have deep symbolic resonance. They are symbols of beauty, honor, and strength, and demonstrate connection to the earth and one’s ancestors. Without making a specific cultural reference, the work allows for all symbolic possibilities. I gravitate toward symbols with global cultural significance, such as braids and birds, with the hope that they allow for diverse audiences to bring their own understanding to the work."
Date of Birth
American, b. Columbia
Collage with handmade Japanese papers, magazine papers, Jade glue and charcoal on canvas, with matte medium
framed: 61 3/16 x 49 1/8 in. (155.41625 x 124.7775 cm.); unframed: 60 x 48 in. (152.4 x 121.92 cm.)
Accession #
Credit Line
Museum Purchase
On View
On Loan