“As appealing and enigmatic as coffers, reliquaries, or shrines, Maria Karametou ’s small mixed –media house sculptures pack a powerful presence. A subtle glow reminiscent of lead seems to emanate from their heavily textured, dark-gray walls and roofs that, in nice contrast to that “base metal”, are occasionally touched by a glint of gold leaf. But a house is most of all a home, Karametou reminds us. She positions tiny artifacts – a sleeping cat, milk bottles, flowers- from everyday life on the windowsills and steps of her structures, tying pieces to our common experience and in the process lightening an otherwise strong sense of psychological and emotional weight.
In her most recent work, though, Karametou has moved beyond making discrete “shrines” to create installations that are archetypal examinations of our relationship to time and eternity. Her installation for AAC (“Child, House, Game”) positions a nebulous figure, childlike yet also ageless, before a blank wall, carrying a staff in its hand as if undertaking a journey. A bicycle wheel, symbolic of childhood yet also evocative of the cycles of life and the eternal mandala, leans against the wall. A painted figure of a bird soars on the wall “sky”; a simple gray shape, like a child’s notion of a house, with steep, peaked roof, is positioned on the same wall, a bit to the standing figure’s other side. The tableau could simply document a child resting from play, about to go inside her house. Yet so spare are Karametou’s details, and so universal are her images, that we begin to sense something greater taking place. The traveler on this journey is heading home- but not to any earthly realm. “
Lee Fleming, Art Critic and Guest Curator, “Artsites” Regional Biennial
“Maria Karametou takes the essence of contemporary urbanity and tames it. While denying nothing- loss, isolation, routinization- she also insists on the complex beauty of the city and its inhabitants. A wall of iconographic busts, in which each individual contains a symbol of some aspect of contemporary life, offers a memorial to the human spirit. The main motif takes the form of a house- here a hovel, there a skyscraper, but always more than mere dwelling. These houses offer what art does at its best- they encourage viewers to comprehend (or compose) their own story. “Vacant” subtly suggests the ageless tale of death and absence simply through the new suitcase left in front of its barred and rotted door and the cancelled stamps embedded in its walls. The tension between nature and city represented by the exquisitely painted trees on three tall houses (obelisks?) in “Cityscape” reflects that opposing tug in all us “urban tenants”.
The pieces in this show are sculptural mixed media, either wall reliefs or free-standing, with masterly elements of painting on many of them. Prepare to spend time here- one cannot just look at these works; they compel a more intense interaction. “
Rima Schulkind, “Must See”, KOAN
“ Maria Karametou ’s “Epigraph” (is) a small crest with an aura of mystery compounded by a Greek word carved into the center. “Being Greek and being American has informed my work a lot”, she says. “I’ve always tried to bridge the two cultures”. At the tip of the crest sits a ship, indicating the long –ago emigration of Karametou’s family from Asia Minor to Greece and her own journey to America 20 years ago. “The burning heart (in the piece), that’s me- I’m an intense person”, she says. The two wings framing the crest represent a desire to “go higher and fly and materialize your dreams and aspirations”. The word in the crest translates to “perseverance… ”
Nicole Lewis, The Washington Post