Maura Holden was born in 1967 in Philadelphia PA. She spent most of her childhood absorbed in a multi-dimensional daydream, which formed the foundation of her visionary quest as it continues today. By dreaming, drawing and water-coloring continually throughout her youth, Maura was able to present her first solo show at age sixteen, in the family home, with a large body of detailed paintings and drawings of inner landscapes populated by spirits and supernatural beings. Thanks to her mother, who organized everything, the show was packed with enthusiastic people who bought all the art; Maura bought an expensive dirt bike, and every time she jumped a curb she enjoyed the sensation of her visions manifesting abundance and adventures.
Though Maura’s very early work was definitely fantastic – heavily influenced by Max Ernst, Dali, and her own mystical dreams – she did not anticipate the full flowering of her visionary kinship until seeing the art of Ernst Fuchs. This profound event occurred when she was twenty-four, at a party, where someone handed her a book of Fuch’s art. From the moment she held the book, Maura has been a devoted fanatic, more influenced by Fuchs and his lineage than by any other branch of painting.
Maura has never had formal painting instruction but has learned from friends, and pieced together her own education from a combination of book research, experiments with art materials and techniques, looking at other artists’ work, and a lot of time at the easel, becoming one with the paint.
In 2002 Maura had her first solo gallery show, “Carnivorous Architecture”, at Gallery in the Woods in Brattleboro, Vermont. The show brought Maura a small flurry of recognition, leading soon afterwards to a year-long group show, “High on Life”, at the American Visionary Art Museum, followed the next year by another, “Golden Blessings” at the same museum. Her contribution of five paintings to the first of these shows brought many new friends and connections, and Tom Patterson, the curator of “High on Life”, later went on to write a feature article about Maura and her work for Raw Vision magazine, issue 56, Autumn 2006.
Maura’s involvement with AVAM and Tom Patterson linked her to the Outsider Art movement, whose artists she regards affectionately and belongs with familiarly, since she is self-taught and a part time eccentric recluse.
In 2003 Maura participated in the Society for the Art of Imagination‘s “Brave Destiny” show, at the Williamsburg Art and Historical Society. This started her in the direction of the Visionary Art movement.
It would be years, though, before Maura unfolded further in the public sphere. Around this time, she embarked on an experiment in consciousness, when she repaired to a hermit’s cabin in Westminster West, Vermont, and began a new body of work. There, for three years, she lived without electricity or running water, secluded in the forest, meanwhile making a fair number of shamanic journeys and beginning new paintings. This period constituted a death and re-birth for her, a breaking down of old structures, a passage from one kind of consciousness to another. She lost her identity, it seemed, and merged with the forest’s myriad woven sound and sentience. This state of suspension in nature helped her let go of outworn thoughts and begin fumblingly to manifest a new kind of vision. The realms of Earth-aliens, faeries and the geometry of plants and minerals began to replace the ruinous anthropomorphic cities of her earlier period. A new outlook began to take root.
In 2006 Maura’s mother gave her a computer and Maura built a primitive website for her art, thus linking with the international Visionary community. In 2007 her work appeared in “Metamorphosis – 50 Contemporary Surreal, Fantastic and Visionary Artists” published by Jon Beinart. In 2008 her work was featured in “The Invisible College” issue 4, created by Gwyllm Llwydd. Laurence Caruana published Maura’s artwork and a short story, “The Cosmic Mountain” in “The Visionary Revue“.
Around 2007 Maura became pen pals with Laurence Cauruana, at first corresponding with him mainly about philosophical, spiritual and aesthetic ideas. Their friendship became more personal over time, eventually leading Maura to gain a strong attraction to the Visionary Art community and the idea of participating more directly with her peers. In 2011 she joined Laurence, Amanda Sage and Andrew Gonzales in teaching the “Visions in the Mischtechnik” seminar, in Tori Superiore, Italy, where she lead a drawing intensive. During the seminar Maura became friends with Andrew Gonzales and Amanda Sage, and even finally met with her idol, Ernst Fuchs, exchanging words of respect and a wonderful hug. She will be returning to teach at the seminar in 2012.