Born in Chicago, Maureen Fritchen currently lives and works in Racine, where she has had a studio at the 16th Street Studios for the past 15 years. Fritchen took a self-directed approach to art scholarship, focusing on painting at various institutions including the American Academy of Art in Chicago, Illinois; the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater; and Boise State University, Idaho. She regularly shows in regional juried, invitational, and biennial exhibitions such as the Wisconsin Artists Biennial at the Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, and the Midwestern Biennial at the Rockford Art Museum, Illinois. Most recently, beginning in 2022 and extending into 2023, her work was featured in the Museum of Wisconsin Art’s exhibition Magical Wilderness.
Fritchen’s community art activism has spanned the last 25 years, earning her the Volunteer of the Year Award for Art and Culture from the Volunteer Center of Racine County, Inc. She was founder and co-chair for ArtSite and Get Behind the Arts Studio Tour and the chairperson for the 16th Street Studios annual open house. Fritchen served on the Racine Arts Council board as the gallery chair and on the University of Wisconsin–Parkside Arts and Humanities Advisory Board. She is currently involved with ArtRoot, a Racine organization building arts infrastructure and community connections.
The impact of consumerism on our environment is ever present in my art. Exploring industrial waste material as my principal medium has drastically changed my approach. Currently, my focus is on repurposing polyethylene foam, a material used in packaging that is not biodegradable and is a threat to our planet. In contrast, the biomorphic forms created are beautiful and sensuous. They are as alluring as they are disturbing.
Play is vital to my process; it allows me the freedom to fail. Materials that come my way also play an important role because they can dictate form and lead me to surprising outcomes. Both have influenced my current interests and for the first time in my career, I’m exploring 3-D forms.