Maura Williams has always seen herself as an artist. She was influenced by her mother, an Associate Art Professor at a Catholic women’s college in Chicago. In fact, all of Maura’s jobs have been art related.
A self-described “introvert”, Maura feels that she’s more successful when doing things on her own. But when she’s not working full-time or working on her artwork, she meets with a group of women at the Department of Corrections in Shakopee for female offenders. The group meets to talk with each other and most importantly to take ownership of their crimes and to work towards creating a better life. Maura first heard about the group through a church group she also met with. She was given the opportunity to join and she jumped at it. “We laugh, we cry, it feels like a privilege to be a part of a conversation that deep, that personal, and that vulnerable,” she said.
Maura finds her inspiration through nature and uses photographs she takes of natural subject matter to create her pieces. “Whenever I’m outside, I always find myself taking photos,” she said. Maura spends hours finding the right photo and adjusting the composition and distance before starting her drawings. Her preferred medium is oil pastel and she considers herself a drawer or “draftsman” though people often think of her as a painter.
It usually takes Maura roughly twenty to forty hours, done in increments, to complete a piece. Maura has worked on pieces for up to four hours in one sitting, but says that is a rare case. She finds the time to work on her artwork usually on Friday and Saturday evenings and will often work until 3:00 AM.
When asked if she’s ever not been able to part with a piece that she’s created, she said that she has still held on to two portraits, one of her and one of a model, that she sees as being “breakthrough” drawings. “For these portraits, for whatever reason, I pushed through and got to the next level with them,” she said. “They are very dear to me so I keep them around.”
After Maura retires, she hopes to better market her work and get her work into more healthcare facilities. “I think there are more opportunities for my work to be shown,” she said.