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Maia Cruz Palileo (b. 1979, Chicago) creates paintings, works on paper, installations, and sculptures that honor familial archives and imagined contemporary realities. Beginning from a space of personal inquiry around their family’s migration from the Philippines to America, Palileo quickly uncovered the immense connective points between individual histories and broader global systems, like colonization, displacement, assimilation, and the Philippine–American War. The artist’s research into overlapping historical timelines, paired with the transmutational effects of memory, provides a framework for their color-rich compositions. This overlapping is made physical through the layering of oil paint, which—even in instances where one layer is concealed by another—permanently maintains its material presence on the canvas, creating its own recorded history. While painting has been at the center of the artist’s practice in recent years, Palileo utilizes their background as a sculptor to incorporate hands-on processes, from mixing their own paints, to making cardstock cutouts of drawings, and incorporating collage techniques to create preparatory sketches. By obscuring horizon lines and vanishing points, their paintings emphasize the densely varied landscapes—mountains, forests, bodies of water—present in the Philippines, while simultaneously foregrounding the figures represented in these archival materials and imbuing them with care, dignity, and presence of spirit that is often flattened in a photographic archive. For Palileo, these parallel modes of research open up narrative possibilities and account for some of the somatic information that gets lost to time and distance, filling in the gaps that emerge when people and families migrate outside of their ancestral land.

Maia Cruz Palileo has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Cummer Museum, Jacksonville, Florida (2023); Kimball Art Center, Park City, Utah (2022); Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2021); and American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, Washington, D.C. (2019), among others. Recent group exhibitions include Seven Rooms and a Garden, Moderna Museet, Skeppsholmen, Stockholm (2023); Spirit in the Land, Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina (2023); The Outwin: American Portrait Today, Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C. (2022); A Point Stretched: Views on Time, San José Museum of Art, California (2022); and Our Blue Planet: Global Visions of Water, Seattle Art Museum (2022), among many others. Their work is in the permanent collections of Cummer Museum, Jacksonville, Florida; San José Museum of Art, California; The Fredriksen Collection, The National Museum, Oslo, Norway; Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky; and Chapman University, Orange, California. Palileo lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.