Maria Ojascastro has taught visual arts for The Center of Creative Arts (COCA) since 2007. She conducts creativity programs for individuals in business through COCAbiz, the business training division of COCA, a national leader in arts-based education. COCAbiz offers programs for both individuals and corporate teams that challenge and teach the skills needed to unlock creative energy. She also works with at-risk students through COCA's Urban Arts program. Ojascastro conducts weekly classes for children and adults. For a full schedule, please visit COCA.
She has been a guest teacher at Washington University, St. Louis University and Webster University and teaches art to individuals whose lives have been touched by cancer at the Siteman Cancer Center, the Cancer Support Community and St. Anthony's Cancer Center. As a Community Art Trainer, she presents workshops for many educational and cultural institutions including Kemper Art Museum, The Brown School of Social Work, The Missouri Mental Health Counselors Association and The Center for Survivors of War Trauma and Torture . From 2008 to 2011, she was an art instructor for The Moog Center for Deaf Education. Her curriculum revolved around the students' academic subjects. Her teaching career began at Churchill Center & School for Learning Disabilities. As a substitute teacher she taught a range of classes including tutorial, math, language arts and social studies. Prior to teaching, she worked at several prestigious cultural institution including Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Art St. Louis.
In her art studio, she creates mixed media pieces that incorporate prints and paint reflecting the vibrant colors and rich textures of the Philippines, Jamaica and Italy. Recently, her focus has expanded to work that has more sculptural, three-dimensional elements. Many pieces are made of discarded furniture, antique mirrors, altered books and old windows embedded in encaustic wax, richly colored prints, delicate india ink drawings, rich repurposed clothing and small found objects. Recently, her art was featured in a two-person exhibit in the Millstone Gallery at the Center of Creative Arts, entitled Breathe. Breathe is an exhibit of recent works that layer prints, paint, text, and found objects as a meditation on resilience, salvaged from the relics of interrupted journeys. Her art has been exhibited at Park College in Kansas City, Kansas; the Midwest Museum of American Art in Elkhart, Indiana; the Colfax Cultural Center in South Bend, Indiana and many other galleries and alternative spaces.
Ojascastro received a Masters of Fine Arts from Washington University in St. Louis; studied in Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence, Italy; and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana.
October 25, 2011
"Never judge a book by its cover. I have heard that my entire life and this is the first time that each and every word made the most sense to me. I have never seen so much variety mixed together to create such wonderful and whimsical pieces. The book was used as the base and from there, the pages were altered to create windows, envelopes, words exposed, drawings over multi-media, etc. The book enabled the patient to do whatever they wanted to create. Paper already existed, binding was present, and the rest, is history, as they say! What a great process and product." Vicki Friedman, Arts as Healing, Director at Washington University School of Medicine responding to Maria Ojascastro's "Altered Works" workshop for cancer patients.
For more information about using art as a tool in healing, please go to the Healing and Creativity page.
August 31, 2011
"On Monday, Entrepreneur Peter Sims was asked,
"How do you measure success?"
As an artist and an educator, I struggle with that question often.
On Tuesday, a young architect took my "Altered Works" session at COCA's Business Creativity Conference. One of the directions I gave the class was to highlight interesting words that pop out on the page. He found words about love and family in the book he was given for the project. Halfway through the book, he found the heading "Grace" in large letters and highlighted that word. When he shared his book with the class, I saw him fight back tears. "Grace is the name of our daughter." I was stunned that after less than two hours, he was comfortable enough to be so open with his creation. I fought back the urge to run across the room and give the architect a hug.
I received my success that day." Maria Ojascastro