Maria Mungai

Maria Mungai Member Feature

“My professional career was as a high school Spanish teacher and Speech coach; however, I have always kept my art front and center. My art teachers starting in middle school, high school and continuing through two years at Illinois Wesleyan University were excellent. This also includes graduate study in printmaking with Michael Barnes at NIU. I did my graduate work in Spanish at NYU in Madrid, Spain which is where I became enamored of translation.

Language is a set of symbols that, hopefully, leads to a greater understanding of the world. This is what I try to do with my art practice: to create meaning via visual symbols and to communicate with others through the choices I make. I show my work when the opportunities present themselves. Chicago Printmakers has given me ample outlets. I am forever grateful for the community I’ve found and the friends that I have made at CPC. There is no better source of inspiration for me right now than the community at CPC.”

FU MMXX, 2022, paper size – 15 X 11 1/4, image size – 8 X 10


MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: a Q & A with Maria Mungai

How long have you been at CPC? 

I took my first class at CPC in 2003 and have been a member since 2006 or thereabouts. Deb’s Mom, Carol, and I
have shared a studio for years. We’re rarely working at the same time but we always leave traces of ourselves.


What’s your favorite type of printmaking? 

Etching with aquatint and chine collè is my favorite type of printmaking
I make art to understand what I think. It’s a form of visual journaling for me. My struggle has always been
to let my thoughts move in my artmaking which is what journaling helps me to do in my writing.


What other media do you enjoy working in? 

Pen and ink drawing and watercolor painting are other media I enjoy.


What direction are you planning to go in the coming year with your work?

In the coming year I will continue to refine my skills as a printer. I especially want to improve my skills with
chine collé and experiment further with lift grounds. I am interested in exploring the nexus of translation of text and
artmaking. Both require a search for deeper meaning, making choices and an understanding of context. Both also
require some trust in intuitive choices.


What book are you reading currently? 

I am reading two books currently, “Fraud” (Zadie Smith) and “Translating Myself and Others” (Jhumpa Lahiri)


What is your favorite non-art distraction? 

Travel always inspires me.


Who are 3 artists (dead or alive) that inspire you?

I am a huge fan of Katherine Polk. Looking at her work makes me think of my lifelong love of a collection of poems
that my mother used to read to us. The front pages were illustrations by Maxfield Parrish. Kathryn Polk uses a
similar palette and creates magic with her storytelling as he did. Elizabeth Murray and Goya are others that I
continue to look at. Too many to name and I’m not even on Instagram!


Who is your favorite printmaker?

My current favorite printmaker is Kumi Obata. I am obsessed with her work. She is playful, wistful and
a wonderful storyteller. She leaves so much room in her work for a true conversation with the viewer.


What was the last gift you gave someone?

The last gift I gave was a framed print.


What’s your favorite thing about CPC?

My favorite thing about CPC is how it nurtures me. I feel a deep sense of community at Chicago Printmakers and
continue to be inspired by my fellow artists.


You can contact Maria for more information by emailing her. Read other Member Spotlight interviews here.


Eclipse, 2022 paper size 7 1/2 X 10 1/4, image size – 3 3/4 X 7

Her Voice, 2023, paper size – 14 3/4 X 19 1/2, image size – 9 X 12