Maria Servellón is an award-winning filmmaker, multimedia artist, educator, and arts advocate from Boston, MA. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art and Japanese from the University of Massachusetts Boston, and her Master of Fine Arts in Film and Media Art from Emerson College. Her focus is film and digital media, including projection, installation, photography, drawing, and design. Maria’s work often explores synesthetic relationships between art, music, and dance.
Her work has exhibited and screened in Boston, New York, California, Oregon, UK, and Mexico thus far. Maria’s latest and most successful short film is Hyphen (2018). Within the last 3 years, she was named one of 2018’s “Latinos 30 Under 30” by El Mundo Boston; was a 2019 New England Film Star Award finalist; and has won grants, fellowships, and residencies from the Mayor’s Office Of Arts & Culture, Boston Arts & Business Council, Boston Public Schools, and Mass MoCA. To learn more, visit mariaservellon.com
How have your experiences within the Media Art program prepared you for your work as a film educator?
Maria: “Working as a lecturer at the university level has been fulfilling and a great learning experience. I channel some of my most memorable Emerson professors in the way I teach, the media (videos, books, articles, etc.) I assign, and the open discussions I have with my classes. In the classroom, we are all artists that can learn from each other and open the dialogue about our experiences. I think this is something very unique and special I experienced as a student in the Media Art program at Emerson College. I can’t think of learning and teaching in any other way than this. I, too, want to inspire the next generation of upcoming creators and storytellers.”
Tell us about your film, Hyphen.
“Hyphen was the thesis film for my Emerson MFA Film & Media Art degree that I wrote, directed, and produced. 4 people play my memories; based on the different Latina, first-generation, native Bostonian, artist experiences. It went to 14 film festivals in Massachusetts, New York, California, Oregon, the UK, and Mexico. Receiving likes and well wishes from other Latinx creators such as America Ferrera, Anjelah Johnson, and Perez Hilton was a bonus. It’s been a vulnerable and transformative experience getting to talk to many people it has resonated with during the 2 year festival run. The journey is over this year and it’ll be released online. I’m now writing my next film, Phantasma, and taking my time with it as I absorb how Hyphen didn’t exist just as a short film, but also as a movement of embracing identity.”
Congratulations on being awarded the Creative Entrepreneur Fellowship! What have been some of the highlights so far as a fellow and what advice would you give artists who are interested in applying?
“Thank you! I’ve had some great mentoring and coaching from the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston. Things like finances, taxes, insurance, etc. are very important to learn about post-grad. Leaving the “student artist” stage, explore as many opportunities in and outside of Boston. Just don’t stop creating and advocating. I look forward to seeing what other innovative ways the city will keep supporting artists.
We all bring ourselves to work. We also have the opportunity to reflect on areas to grow as professional womxn. What are some of the biases you’ve had to recognize and address in yourself so that they don’t impact on your work?
“The work I do is about challenging the norms and creating new dialogue on the meaning of individual identity. It’s about perseverance. Some won’t get it, some won’t want to get it, and some may not even believe you can do it. But I believe in creating work that can resonate with anyone in regards to the complex human experience; just speak your truth. Always.
As you begin your career, what are some issues you’ve noticed that womxn might face in their careers and what has impacted you based on your background?
“Believing and reasserting your voice, knowledge, experience, and most importantly, your story. Strength comes from different parts of yourself and it’s good to surround yourself with people who add to that. I’m all about telling the more difficult or overlooked stories. We all have to lift each other up, no matter where our journey take us. It’s what makes life a little more beautiful.”