Maja Petrić is an artist working with cutting-edge technology to create innovative spatial experiences that evoke the sublimity of nature. She grew up in Croatia during the violent fragmentation of Yugoslavia. It is then that she became preoccupied with using art to elevate a sense of the surroundings. She received a Ph.D. from University of Washington and a Master from New York University on the topic of transforming the poetic experience of space through the experimental use of technology. Training at these pioneering institutions gave her an opportunity to explore various artistic methods to manipulate people’s senses through which they experience space cognitively and emotionally. Maja discovered that lighting is one of the most potent tools to shape people’s experience. Since the year 2000, she has been studying, researching, practicing, and teaching complementary potential of light and art to create the transformative human experience. On this subject, she had developed a theoretical body of knowledge that is embodied in her art practice.


Maja’s light art has been exhibited worldwide at venues including Henry Art Gallery, Medialab Prado, Microsoft Gallery, and Matadero Madrid. Her artworks have been commissioned by Amazon, Microsoft, Kikekeller Gallery,and included in private collections. Maja has been nominated for Arts Innovator Award 2017, FastCo. Innovation by Design Awards 2016, The International Light Art Award, and received numerous international awards including Microsoft Research Art Residency Award, Richard Kelly Light Art Award, Thunen Light Art Award, and Croatian National Award for Science and Technological Development.


I was born and raised in Croatia and I became interested in art while growing up during the war. I was nine years old when the war broke out in my country. In the following five years, many places in Croatia were devastated. Great buildings were ruined, in some places entire villages were razed to the ground. With the fallen architecture people also fell, and the entire region was overpowered by fear and despair. Growing up in such an environment made me dream of other places. In my dreams, I repaired broken things and saw fragmented landscapes whole again. My imagination transported me from the disturbing realities to nature-inspired places of awe and wonder. From that point on, I looked for ways to transform the poetic experience of shattered spaces.

My curiosity for science led me to use cutting edge technologies as an artistic tool to create immersive spaces that evoke the sublimity of nature. My approach became scientific and technical but always rooted in art. Fusing these disciplines lets me discover and create innovative experiences that have a transformative impact.

As an example, I created an interactive installation, “outSIDEin,” for the New York City Subway’s utterly desolate pedestrian tunnel at 191st Street station of the number 1 train, also known as the tunnel of doom. I created a false ceiling that appeared to be cracked, and a combination of artificial light and fog simulated a striking natural effect of light emanating from the sky. Lights were programmed to imitate the color and intensity of the daylight outside of the tunnel. When the weather outside was sunny, the light projected inside through the cracks was bright and yellow. When the weather outside was foggy, the light shining over the passers-by was soft and blue.

The political crisis we just entered reminds me of the distorted reality and gloomy realities of my childhood. I will again turn to art to transcend politics and engage people’s primordial sensations, to remind them of their connection to nature and to elicit a profound response that helps them catch a glimpse, however fleeting, of the essence of life.