Maria Mazziotti Gillan

Artist Statement

My art comes from an instinctive place. In my watercolors and collages I try to do what I do in poetry—that is to let go, to allow the old wise woman who lives in my belly to take over. Often when I’m writing a poem, after the first few lines it is as though the poem is writing itself, operating out of the subconscious mind. I don’t allow my conscious mind to control what is going on in the poem. For me, the same thing happens when I am painting or constructing a collage. Allowing my imagination to take over, gives me the freedom to paint people, interiors, or the external world as they exist in my mind rather than in reality.

In my poetry, I try to root my work in the details and specificity of ordinary life, but in my art I am not attempting to achieve realistic portrayals of people, interiors, or birds or flowers. Rather, I am trying to capture energy and feeling. I am trying to allow the essence of the subject to come forth, to convey joy or sadness, exuberance or loss. 


Maria Mazziotti Gillan is an artist, poet and professor.

She is the Founder and Executive Director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, NJ, and editor of the Paterson Literary Review.

Maria Gillan is a Bartle Professor and Professor Emerita of English and creative writing and is the Director of the Creative Writing Program and Professor of Poetry at Binghamton University-SUNY.

She has published 22 books of and about poetry and four literature anthologies.

Her collection of poems along with some of her paintings is The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets (Redux Consortium). Her most recent books are the poetry and photography collaboration with Mark Hillringhouse, Paterson Light and Shadow (Serving House Books, 2017) and the poetry collection, What Blooms in Winter (NYQ, 2016).

She is the recipient of the 2014 George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature from AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs), the 2011 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers and the 2008 American Book Award for her book, All That Lies Between Us (Guernica Editions).

Maria has read her poems numerous times at universities, festivals, and poetry centers throughout the USA and in Italy, France, Yugoslavia, Finland, Wales, and Ireland.