7 Questions for Ministry of Nomads Founder Maria Vega on ‘Redefining the Role of a Boutique Art Gallery’

M.O.N. Art Foundation, a division of Ministry of Nomads, recently debuted its newest exhibition in Venice, "Maria Kreyn: CHRONOS"

Maria Vega. Courtesy of Ministry of Nomads.

Established in 2008 by curator and gallerist Maria Vega, Ministry of Nomads was initially founded as not only a boutique art gallery but a site for dialogue and discovery. In the years since, driven by Vega’s singular vision, Ministry of Nomads has evolved into a multifaceted endeavor that brings together art education and philanthropy with the commercial aspect of the gallery. This progression was notably marked by the establishment of the Ministry of Nomads (M.O.N.) Art Foundation along with introduction of the M.O.N. Artist Award, the latter of which has become recognized for its prestige worldwide.

Dedicated to the support and advancement of contemporary art and artists, the M.O.N. Art Foundation recently debuted its most recent project, the solo exhibition “Maria Kreyn: CHRONOS,” set within St. George’s Anglican Church in Venice, coinciding with the Venice Biennale.

Following the opening of the show, we reached out to Vega to learn more about the Ministry of Nomads mission, and what went into producing the monumental new exhibition.

Ministry of Nomads founder Maria Vega in a grey blazer coat, long brown hair and bangs, standing in front of a bright blue backdrop.

Maria Vega. Courtesy of Ministry of Nomads.

Can you tell us about what experiences and inspirations led you to found Ministry of Nomads?

From early on in my career, I have had the privilege of collaborating with young, talented artists. Engaging with these fresh minds has consistently been an inspiration—providing a breath of fresh air, challenging conventional norms, and introducing new, dynamic ideas into the artistic conversation.

I have always been drawn to authentic, uncommercialized contemporary art, which led me to move to Havana, a city pulsating with cultural richness and untapped artistic potential. It was here that I encountered artists like Yoan Capote and Wilfredo Prieto, whose work presents raw and compelling narratives, not only challenging the status quo but also enriching the broader discourse of contemporary art.

Being surrounded by this artistic community in Havana led me to establish a platform dedicated to supporting and showcasing artists who share a similar commitment. Ministry of Nomads is more than just a space, it’s a vibrant community that champions the bold and experimental, offering a space for creative minds that go against mainstream commercialism.

How would you describe the core mission of Ministry of Nomads? Has this changed or evolved since its founding?

Since it was founded in 2008, Ministry of Nomads has been dedicated to redefining the role of a boutique art gallery by showcasing and supporting unique talents from cultural centers around the world. Our core mission is to facilitate a dynamic exchange among artists, collectors, and art enthusiasts, creating an ecosystem of creative interaction. We strive to break down traditional barriers in artistic expression, making art accessible and experiential.

Installation view inside an anglican church looking down towards the alter, the aisle is line with Maria Kreyn's paintings. Produced by Ministry of Nomads.

Installation view of “Maria Kreyn: CHRONOS” (2024). Photo: The Wick. Courtesy of the artist and M.O.N. Art Foundation.

Last year, the M.O.N Art Foundation launched, and is currently presenting the exhibition “CHRONOS.” How did this exhibition come about?

The genesis of “CHRONOS” traces back to the profound impact Maria Kreyn’s “Storm Paintings” had when I first came across them. I was captivated by her unique approach to depicting phenomena, where the raw energy and emotive power of storms are rendered with both precision and passion. This series marked a significant evolution in her work, showing her technical skills in capturing the tumultuous beauty of nature.

Following the resounding success of her solo show in London in 2023, it became clear that these works deserved a broader stage. This led to the decision to bring the series to Venice, integrating them into a larger cultural art platform. Venice, with its rich artistic history and unique positioning on water, was the perfect backdrop to enhance the thematic depth and visual impact of Kreyn’s work.

Installation view inside an anglican church looking down towards the alter, the aisle is line with Maria Kreyn's paintings. Produced by Ministry of Nomads.

Installation view of “Maria Kreyn: CHRONOS” (2024). Photo: The Wick. Courtesy of the artist and M.O.N. Art Foundation.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve overcome in developing Ministry of Nomads?

Developing Ministry of Nomads has involved navigating a series of formidable challenges, particularly when working with artists from countries in conflict or areas of political and social instability. One significant obstacle has been the scarcity of basic resources and infrastructure necessary for creating art. Many artists we collaborate with face restrictions such as lengthy and complex procedures required to obtain permits for transporting artworks across borders, which can be very daunting. These bureaucratic obstacles not only delay our projects but also limit the exposure of these artists’ work on the international stage.

Overcoming these challenges has both strengthened and underscored the importance of our mission: to provide a platform for artists who might otherwise remain unheard, ensuring their stories and visions reach a global audience.

On a personal level, what is the importance or significance of art today?

On a personal level, art holds deep significance, going beyond mere aesthetics to become an essential part of our lives and inner worlds. It serves as a trusted companion, offering solace, inspiration, and escape. Through creative expression, art helps us understand and interpret the world, while also evoking emotions and encouraging introspection. It fosters empathy, challenges our perceptions, and reflects the diversity of the human experience, making it a dynamic presence in our lives as it constantly shapes and reflects our personal journeys as well as the broader human experience.

Installation view of “Maria Kreyn: CHRONOS” (2024). Photo: The Wick. Courtesy of the artist and M.O.N. Art Foundation.

Looking back since its inception, are there any moments that you are most proud of, or that were most memorable?

Reflecting on our journey, the highlight that stands out most vividly is our presentation of “Chronos” in Venice, featuring the stunning paintings of Maria Kreyn. Being part of this event in the spectacular setting of St. George’s Anglican Church has not only been a defining moment for our initiative but also an unforgettable experience. The historic Venetian backdrop created a genuine synergy with Kreyn’s captivating artworks, which explore themes of climate change and human relationships with our natural world. This event epitomizes what we strive for: bringing transformative art to unique, culturally rich environments.

Is there any Ministry of Nomads news or forthcoming events that you can share with us?

Yes, we will be presenting Maria Kreyn at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London this coming autumn.

Maria Kreyn: CHRONOS” is on view at St George’s Anglican Church, Venice, through June 22, 2024.

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