Maria-Lana Queen, a Washingtonian, received her bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the University of the District of Columbia. A former fashion model, she never considered painting until a devastating personal loss started her artistic journey. Painting helped her deal with the loss of her brother in 2003 and gave her the inspiration to create a body of works that has become her voice in the world. She discovered that by using canvas, paper, and paint to create her own form of diary-keeping, she could express her feelings in her own coded language. She uses the power of color to express emotions and her colorful abstract paintings serve as a personal visual diary of her life experiences. Her artworks have been shown in venues in Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia, New York, U.S Virgin Islands, Martha’s Vineyard, private collections, and is currently featured in the prominent, “Tradition Redefined: The Larry and Brenda Thompson Collection of African American Art,” on permanent display at the Georgia Museum of Art. In 2012 she and her artworks were featured in an exclusive Washington Post article titled, “Her Past Colors Her Art.” Through her art creations, Ms. Queen continues to paint her ongoing abstract diary.
Maria-Lana Queen’s artworks continue to explore several common themes pertaining to life: connection and loss, faith and spirituality, affinity and kinship. Throughout her work, Maria-Lana uses several devices as metaphors: ladders to convey escapism or a means of escape to express that there is a way out from whatever difficulties we are facing; small stitch-like marks she calls “tracks” to remind us that with the choices we make each day we lay the path to our happiness or un-happiness; cages to convey the feeling of powerlessness to release ourselves from unexpressed hurt and incessant sentimental recollection that can keep us imprisoned in the past; crosses to affirm the importance of faith and to acknowledge the burdens we bear; oddly placed alphabets to draw the viewer into a search for meaning in the work; numbers to represent their importance as markers in our memory (i.e. she is one of ten children and eight remain); and DNA-like images to represent heredity. Most of us want to be connected to someone who understands and loves us for who we are. We want to be in association with others who share our values. In her paintings, Maria-Lana uses her DNA-like images to represent our shared humanity that on a basic level makes us more similar than dissimilar; and, to express her curiosity about her known and unknown genetic heritage.
Watch Maria-Lana Queen discuss her work with Dr. Adrienne Childs below!