To Top

Meet Maria Nicola Rios-Mathioudakis

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maria Nicola Rios-Mathioudakis.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
In 1998 I moved to the US. I lived the first 10 years of my life here in Rainbow, California. Growing up in a semi-rural area has influenced my work greatly. My love for arts and culture comes from growing up in a place where those things were greatly lacking. From the age of 4 I pursued dance and performance as my primary mediums. I am not classically trained but prefer folk dance forms. As a teenager I traveled extensively in Europe as a part of a Cretan folk dancing troupe. Those were formative experiences for me as I learned how beautiful team work and travel can be to art making. I was educated in Ethnic Studies/ Critical Gender Studies and Sociology at the University of California San Diego. I am grateful for this education because my professors let me use my art making skills quite frequently in my studies. After college I stayed in San Diego and worked for a number of museums and local arts non-profits as a teaching artist and a public art project lead.

Since 2015 I have pursued a variety of social practice art projects around local political issues. In 2016 I worked with The San Diego Art Institute’s “Date Night” Art Fair and later the Helmuth Project on “IUD gallery: a place you think about”. This project was a simple organization of local femme artists from San Diego who were making work but not on the radar of most institutions in the area. In 2017 I worked with the Vallecitos School district in Rainbow to create ART CLUB which was a free after-school art class for 5-8th grade students. From May 2017-March 2018 my partner (Rafael Rios-Mathioudakis) and I set out on a trans-global adventure. We road tripped in Crete, Spain, Portugal, and later drove a van from Northern California down through Mexico and into Guatemala. This journey was very inspiring and life changing and, in many way,, I am still processing it. I am currently cultivating a “studio practice” in the bathroom of my mom’s home. I have been studying photography and using these new skills to create work about recent road-trips. The work is early in the making but none the less it’s been exciting for me to play in this way!

Please tell us about your art.
My method of processing my experiences and the world around me is always shifting but it is always an artistic method.

The work emerging from my social practice would be my ART CLUB project in Rainbow, my @aplaceyouthinkabout project, and my work as a part of the team of creatives at The AjA Project that created This work is all connected by a deep desire for communication and empathy. I was driven to make that work in order to educate and inspire empathy for others.

Currently I am becoming a photographer and taking on this new skill set has transformed my relationship to images and to light. I documented my travels last year using a small Minolta analog camera and the experience of returning to Kodak film was incredibly rewarding. Although there is a kind of nostalgia in a reaching back to older technologies that I resent I can’t help but be drawn to them. It’s like I am an adult watching a film I haven’t watched since being a child, I am able to more deeply understand and interpret the experience of using an analog camera now. In my current practice I have also returned to making objects. I am currently working on a series of handmade books with prints of the various experiences I shared on my travels. This work is very personal and I am making it with no intention to show.

I am a deeply collaborative art maker and since moving back have been drawn to projects like Andrea Chung and Lisa Corona’s LOUD project and also working with Evan Apodaca at the Centro De la Raza in Balboa Park. I am sure great things will come out of these collaborations so stay tuned!

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing artists today?
In San Diego the challenge is support. We have very few institutions in this area that are set up to support our work. Many of us have to be our own gallerists, grant writers, and curators. I am grateful to the artists who have stepped up like Josh Pavlick at Helmuth Projects and Andrea Chung and Lisa Corona who are creating LOUD. These are artists who are actively making spaces for us to support each other. It’s not easy. Think of a city like Barcelona that celebrates its arts and culture and values and funds it. I would love to see San Diego become like Barcelona, a city with beautiful beaches AND incredible arts.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
You can see my work on my website You can find me on Social Media @aplaceyouthinkabout and @mariariosmathioudakis. Currently I have no plans to show work but am open to scheduling studio visits!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photo by Kevin Linde

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in