Maria Steele’s mixed media success stems from yoga

For Maria Steele, artwork and yoga come together as one.

“The purpose of yoga is to activate the energy centers in our bodies, and to raise our life force energy,” she says. “My artwork is definitely a reflection of that.” Steele is a mixed media artist who dabbles in printmaking, acrylic painting, collage and wood panel work. The 31-year-old Hawaii native creates pieces that are “very spiritual in abstracts,” designs that set herself apart from the typical island subjects that most associate with Hawaiian art.

“My work is meant to arouse an awareness or remembrance of who and what we really are and the nature of life as we know it. My work is about energy which expresses creation and expansion,” Steele says.

Raised in Kaneohe, Steele’s commitment to studying art began in high school. After graduation, she moved to Portland, Ore., where she earned a bachelor’s degree in print-making from Pacific Northwest College of Art.

“It was kind of traumatic at first, moving to the middle of this big city,” Steele says. “But, I had fun.”

Steele then remained in Portland for three and a half years doing earth work – natural sculptures created by using rocks, dirt, clay and leaves. While in Oregon eight years ago, she also began practicing yoga, a discipline she says helped her reconcile her artistic energies.

“It all came together for me,” she says. “I was perfectly focused and clear on what I wanted to communicate.”

In 2001, Steele came back to Hawaii for her mother’s wedding and decided to remain on Oahu. She spent a summer helping a group of friends fix up a warehouse in Kahaluu, a space which she used as a printmaking workshop.

Now Steele does her work in an Oahu apartment that she calls “Studio 34,” the namesake being the 34th floor location of her living space. She has kept busy during the last year showcasing her art at the Honolulu Stained Glass Gallery and in Chinatown during the First Friday art festivities. For the past one and a half years, she has focused on what she calls “the spirit matrix” – eight pieces of her work that she has put on a large wooden panel in her studio. She has digitized her portfolio and plans to distribute it to local galleries as well as ones to mainland. Steele is also excited about promoting her art through a website, www.mariakundaliniart.com, which she hopes to have up and running by the end of June.

As well, Steele is manifesting her pasison for yoga. She is particularly fond of kundalini, a yoga discipline she took up two years ago, which she teaches to others on the island. For those keen on experiencing kundalini, Steele teaches classes at The Spa at Punahou and Beretania from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m. on Thursdays. Steele also offers classes on at the Hare Krishna Temple in Nuuanu from 8 to 9:30 a.m. on Saturdays, and at Kapiolani Park from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Sundays.

Steele’s energy and artistic endevours are hitting a stride, and she is excited about her unique type of art being a part of a new and innovative artistic movement that is sweeping Hawaii.

“It’s a real exciting time in the islands,” Steele says. “Being from here, I’ve watched the art scene come together and grow. Artists are now doing all types of abstract work and mixed media. It used to be Diamond Head, dolphins, whales and everything native to Hawaii.”

A spearheader of “creation and expansion,” Steele is leadng Hawaii’s new artistic charge. r

To learn more about Steele’s work or kundalini yoga, call (808) 393-5095 or email mariasteele@msn.com.

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