Maria Teresa Camacho-Hull is a local artist living in Taylorsville. She has always been interested in art, even as a child in Bolivia. “I asked my mother if I could paint something on the wall,” she said. “My mother said yes. I painted three chefs flipping pancakes.”
Camacho-Hull was close to an aunt who made clothes. “I watched her sew when I was small. I stood so close in to my aunt’s sewing machine, she said she would sew my nose. My aunt gave me scraps of fabric to make clothes for my dolls. As I got older, I took old clothes and repurposed them to make clothes for my siblings,” she said.
The family made their own Christmas decorations our of newspaper and leaves from chocolate wrappings. “Making art was something I constantly wanted to do,” Camacho-Hull said.
In 1961, when Camacho-Hull was 16 years old, she was an exchange student at Sacred Heart High School in Pittsburgh.
Camacho-Hull met her husband, Charles Jesse Hull of Westminster, when he was a U.S. Marine stationed as a security guard at the American Embassy in Bolivia. In 1967, they got married in Bolivia and then they came to America.
Camacho-Hull told her husband that someday she wanted to study photography when they had the money for her to do so. Her husband was supportive of her desires and Camacho-Hull attended Montgomery College and graduated in 1973 with an Associate of Arts degree in photography. It took her a long time to get her degree because she was also raising a family of five children and could only attend classes at night or in the summers. She was also freelance photographer for seven years.
Camacho-Hull had never considered that anyone would study art. She just created art herself. Things changed when a friend of hers from Argentina, who was attending the University of Maryland, explained that she was studying color theory at the university. Camacho-Hull asked what that meant. She went on to study art at the University of Maryland. She later became teaching assistant in the art department.
Camacho-Hull took up painting in college. “For me painting was always a struggle. At first, I did figurative painting, but the professors only liked abstract art back then and told me I could only stay for one more semester if I did not change my artwork. I told them that I was going to do whatever I wanted,” Camacho-Hull said.
About the same time, Camacho-Hull and her family traveled out West for two summers. She liked the immensity of the western vistas in states such as Utah. Her experience influenced her paintings and Camacho-Hull began to use big canvases. She made the handles of her brushes longer so she could reach the canvases. Without even thinking she began to do abstraction. “It freed me,” she explained. As a result, there was a unanimous approval from the art department for her to stay in the master’s degree program.
Camacho-Hull graduated with a Master of Fine Art degree in 1987. In 1989, she was invited to show 23 of her paintings at the prestigious Museo Nacional de Arte in La Paz, Bolivia.
By then family lived in Darnestown, where Camacho-Hull continued her interest in art and set up a studio in their garage.
Camacho-Hull continued her studies at the Catholic University of America and was a junior professor of Spanish. Camacho-Hull received an Master of Arts in Hispanic American literature in 1990.
Camacho-Hull taught art at the Montgomery County College Adult Education. She taught drawing. “It is the vertebrae of art,” Camacho-Hull said. She taught in the evenings for three years at Quince Orchard High School. She also taught private art lessons in her home art studio in Darnestown.
Camacho-Hull’s husband promised her that they would go back to Bolivia. In 2002, Camacho-Hull and her husband bought property near Mountain Illimani.
Interested in taking art to her home country of Bolivia, Camacho-Hull started an arts center in rural Achocalla called Ars.Natua.Uta on the outskirts of La Paz, Bolivia. Opening in 2004, this privately owned center has an historic main house built in the style of the 18th century Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos with local materials and by local craftspersons.
“I wanted to spread arts and culture in a rural area that did not have other opportunities,” Camacho-Hull said.
Ars.Natua.Uta is the center for artist residencies and art and culture retreats. It sets on 10 acres of beautiful Bolivian countryside with snowcapped mountains and lakes. There is an international sculpture garden. Ars.Natura.Uta was featured in the summer 2019 issue of “Sculpture” magazine. The organization has a Facebook page of the same name.
Camacho-Hull has done residencies in Italy and Spain. She has shown her work internationally including America, Europe and Bolivia.
After living in Darnestown for 40 years, Camacho-Hull moved to Taylorsville in 2017.
Camacho-Hull creates a wide variety of types of artwork. She paints huge abstracts. She also uses recycled materials to create sculptures from repurposed, found and natural materials. She uses stones, shells, fabric, wood and even industrial materials. “Each sculpture is unique. It comes back to my history. I would pick something and repurpose it when I was a child,” she said. “Sculpture always interested me. When I go outside, I always find something to use in my sculptures.”
“As artists, we have the ability of combining our art skills with the need for awareness of the physical world. I believe our role is to initiate interaction not only with nature in general but, more importantly, with the involvement of the creative viewers. We must focus on the need to preserve our environment - to engage through collaboration and make possible the changes that are necessary to reclaim and sustain our natural resources,” Camacho-Hull stated on her website www.mtcharte.net.
Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmo’s Art in Westminster. Her column, An Eye for Art, appears regularly in Life & Times.