Last week, I sat down with Maria Salviadore and their manager, sophomore David Wrona, to talk about their artistic business venture. Maria Salviadore, who preferred to use their alias, is 25-years-old and uses the pronouns they/them. They are from the Philippines and are currently a student at Wake Forest.
Salviadore’s abstract art is just as eccentric as their persona. For them, art is a means of expressing complex emotions that encourage people to introspect as well as reflect on the world around them. They have been making art for as long as they can remember. “As a kid, abstraction came naturally to me, I used to draw battleships because I was fascinated by World War II stories that my lolo (grandfather in Filipino) passed on to me,” they said.
Salviadore has a constant desire to create and they materialize this urge through painting, filmmaking and music.
Quarantine was a tough time for them and they painted several pieces as an outlet to channel their thoughts. This was the first time Salviadore decided to make their art public and set up an exhibition in their creative partner Matthew Aldea’s living room. The exhibition turned out to be a huge success and many people even shed tears as they were taken back by all the pain communicated through the paintings. “I think I was on to something; I opened myself to a lot of people for the very first time and they were all able to connect deeply with my art,” Salviadore remarked.
As for the themes depicted in their art, they usually paint abstract images signifying sorrow. Salviadore is trilingual and they blend their diverse cultural knowledge to create a whole new language of art. They also make allusions to religious figures like the Virgin Mary, which represents innocence. Classical art is another source of inspiration for Salviadore. They are currently working on a painting that is a reimagination of Las Meninas with Marylin Monroe. Their friend Lucian Smith from New York uses silkscreens in portraits and that is something Salviadore is experimenting with in the Monroe piece. The color red is their favorite owing to the power and the pain it represents. A defining aspect of their artwork is the sheer unconventionality of composition and themes. “A lot of my work has nudity and I like to go against social norms to question as to why my work offends people,” Salviadore said.
Salviadore started working with Wrona, a soccer player on the Wake Forest men’s soccer team two months ago. When asked how he juggles between being a full time student-athlete and an art manager, Wrona said, “I am extremely thankful for the opportunities I have. I think if you personally believe in something, it is easy to commit yourself to it.” He has full confidence in Salviadore’s talent and believes that they have a bright future. “I want to be with Maria Salviadore when they sell big pieces,” he added.
Wrona’s vision for their business is to get people interested in Salviadore’s work by getting their name in people’s heads. He understands that their art is made for a different demographic than regular college students. “People need to be willing to take a deeper look at Maria’s art. There’s a lot more to the image than meets the eye at first glance,” he said. He is currently working on building Salviadore’s social media presence on Instagram. His focus is on building personal connections with the buyers that he believes Salviadore is great at. Even though Wrona’s job is to handle the business side of things, he thinks that “In this world, everything is based on money. We, however, just want to live a genuinely fulfilled life. The journey that Salviadore and I are taking together matters more than monetary success.” He wants to provide Salviadore the opportunity to share their art in a commercial yet meaningful manner.
Wrona and Salviadore form quite the tandem. In Salviadore’s words, “David takes a lot off my shoulders, I can focus on creating art freely without having to think about money.” These exceptional individuals are doing well in terms of marketing the artwork. All of Salviadore’s work is on auction with international bidders fetching prices over $2,000.
I, too, was mesmerized by their work and I encourage everyone to check out their mature, thoughtful and intriguing art. Salviadore can be reached @maria_salviadore on Instagram. Go support this contemporary rising artist, you won’t be disappointed.