I met Maria Raimondo when we were both students. She was very focused and always looked at things from a non-traditional angle. She now teaches art to very young students. Maria also pursues her own photography and assemblage art.

Maria Raimondo uses both assemblage art and photography, like seen in her work “Hook, Light and Sinker.”

What are you communicating with your art?

In an era of constant streaming and posting, I find the most striking way to communicate is through a photograph. I use a camera as a tool to merely capture a memory and freeze a moment in time. I look for images which resonate with me and common themes including love, attraction, rebellion, mystery, freedom, and solitude to name a few.

What media do you use and why?

I am both an assemblage artist and a photographer. In my assemblage art, I use a variety of found and bought objects, and my method is painstakingly slow. I sort of just fell into photography as a communication tool as the process is much quicker and less analytical on my part. So my work has either delayed gratification or instant gratification and nothing in between. I live in a world of extremes. Right now I am drawn to the instant world.

Which media is your favorite to use?

That is a most difficult question for me, it’s like asking a foodie which dish they like most. I have a love for so many media like alcohol inks, encaustic, collage, glass, photography.

Who are you influenced by?

Some of my favorite artists are Damien Hirst, Bansky, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Andy Warhol. Their work celebrates life, death and everything in between.

What is your process?

My process includes taking trips to different cities full of culture and interesting people. On walks, I notice everything and stop when I notice what is an interesting composition and an image which speaks to me almost telepathically. It’s like I’m searching for something I don’t know. This is unlike one who knows what they are looking for such as trees or mountains.

What is your favorite local museum or gallery?

I have a passion for the galleries in Chelsea, New York City. There are over 200 galleries in close proximity. I love the idea of seeing some off the wall installation in one gallery and then a few yards away taking in a conceptual exhibit. It’s where one can make note of the latest trends in the art world and see techniques making one analyze their processes. My favorite galleries are David Zwirner, Paula Cooper, Gagosian, and Tanya Bonakdar.

What fight/struggle do you have regarding your art?

A struggle I have now is making trips a priority. I wish I had more connections to the photography world where people have similar goals and aesthetics.

What one attribute should all artists have?

Passion is the driving force behind everything really. It’s like the gasoline in a car to keep it going. Choose a subject matter that moves you and keep the fire alive regardless of anyone’s negative feedback. Make art for you first and the rest will follow.

As a teacher of young students, which type of art gets them the most excited?

I create many large scaled mixed media works at my school when we are in person, like 9×30 feet. When I tell the students they will be creating a piece of the project they are always more excited than normal. Children naturally like to help and absolutely love having a part in contributing to a whole.

You teach the arts. What is the most exciting part of the job?

Right now, the most exciting part of my job is all this new technology which has been incredibly valuable to remote teaching. In this pandemic, there have been multiple applications enhancing education and they had to be grasped rather quickly. The technology I have learned can be used for years to come and I find that beyond exciting.

What is on the horizon? What are you looking forward to?

I am looking forward to being able to safely take off my mask and jump on a train to Manhattan or Brooklyn to take some photos.

For more from Maria Raimondo, go to Instagram, @azureray917.

Thomas Kelly is a Hamilton-based artist and member of the Hamilton Arts Council. His work can be found at thomaskellyart.com.