STATEMENT For the past two decades I’ve been making artists books that are strongly informed by my interest in books, history and the social construction of knowledge.
I often work with found printed matter, utilizing original photographs, documents and everyday ephemera to create new and disturbing meanings. In my work I play with the sense of reverence that readers/viewers bring to official knowledge and history. I also use beauty (in the form of sensuous materials, compelling imagery, and centuries-old craft technique) to draw my audience into content that contradicts precisely those values embodied in traditional forms.
Much of my work draws upon the oral histories of marginalized groups and individuals. I have created projects based on slave narratives, the Salem Witch trials, turn of the century gay love letters, and patient records from McLean Hospital, the oldest mental hospital in America. I recently completed a body of work based on interviews that I conducted with Syrian and Iraqi war refugees. In my work I seek to ambush my audience, to create a revelation that is both personal and political.
BIOGRAPHY Maureen Cummins was born in 1963 and is a native New Yorker. She received a BFA from Cooper Union, where she studied Fine Art with an emphasis on Printmaking and Book Arts, then continued her study with master printers and binders in New York City and California. In 1990 she established her own printshop in a nineteenth- century warehouse in Brooklyn, dedicated to producing limited-edition artist’s books, prints and works-on-paper.
The work of Maureen Cummins is held in over one hundred permanent public collections throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, England, Africa, New Zealand and South America. Institutional collectors include The National Gallery, The Brooklyn Museum, Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum, The Library of Congress, and The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Cummins’s work has been included in numerous group exhibitions at The Brooklyn Museum, including Looking Back from Ground Zero: Images from The Brooklyn Museum Collection. Other exhibitions have been at The Corcoran Gallery of Art; The American Craft Museum; The Art Complex Museum; The Zimmerli Art Museum; the Bibliotech Alexandria; The Kyoto Institute of Technology in Kyoto, Japan; and at the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum in Woodstock, NY.
Cummins has received over a dozen major grants and awards, including grants from the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. She has been awarded residencies throughout the United States and was an artist-in-residence at The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) in Dublin, Ireland.
She currently lives and works in Mount Tremper, NY.