Chalk muralist Maria Oben sketches the Bronx

Maria with her mural of the Bronx.
Photo courtesy of Maria Oben

Maria Oben certainly uses more chalk than the average teacher to sketch out the murals that she’s so well known for around the Bronx.

While Maria can work in paint as well, the Pelham Parkway-based artist does most of her detailed and colorful decorating projects in chalk.

Her restaurant murals can be spotted around the Bronx and the city, just as her recently created visual menu for Next Stop Vegan.

When Bronx Native appeared on the Viceland TV show, ‘Hustle,’ Maria worked up a chalk mural of the show’s host, John Henry.

Personally it was one of her favorite projects and Henry loved it as well.

“That was the first time someone had made a mural of my face,” he said jokingly.

Part of Maria’s preference to chalk is simply that it’s a much faster process. The fact that she has a 6-foot by 7-foot chalkboard in her own apartment has been also quite helpful in her rise to Bronx stardom.

“It’s like spray paint, its fast and easy to fix mistakes,” Maria said.

Mistakes don’t come that often for Maria, though. All it takes is a two-minute sketch and she’s ready to go.

“I don’t really practice I just go at it,” she laughed over.

At this point in time, she can sketch out a chalk-made burger so detailed that it could make your mouth water.

The best part is, the 26-year old had only gotten serious about art a few months ago.

Prior to that she took an interest in graphic design at Hostos Community College…by accident.

“I made graphic design my major by mistake,” Maria said, explaining how she selected the wrong dropdown box online.

Fired up by a desire to prove faculty wrong and a her own love for typography, Maria motivated herself to remain in the program, where she learned a ton about the design world that she translated into her own art niche.

Early in Maria’s life, she and her family survived in a shelter during her formative years. It wasn’t until early adolescence that the artist had her first true home in Classon Point.

“It was just a part of my life, I don’t look at it as anything more than that,” she said.

Now the largest and most prominent part of Maria’s life is her captivating artwork, which she now time-lapses with a growing YouTube Channel that focuses on hand lettering.

“I want to branch out. I want people to see my work. It’s all about putting yourself out there,” she said.

Maria has already branched out of the Bronx as Skinny’s Cantina of Long Island City called her for a menu-mural.

Although, Maria aims to take her talents past the East River as well.

“I want to do a mural in every state and then every country,” she proudly noted her goal.

While that’s the ultimate goal for Maria, right now she’s working on a menu-mural for Empanology while also working on a project called Garden Crawl, which will liven up Mott Haven’s P.S. 18 off East 148th Street.

Follow along with all of Maria Oben’s projects by following her Instagram, mariaoben and YouTube channel

Maria with her Next Stop Vegan mural.
Photo courtesy of Maria Oben

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