His observations, imagination and scientific knowledge of the sun, the vast ocean of space and the life-giving ocean on earth play an important role in his paintings. Having engaged subjects as diverse as human rights, ancestral connections, music and spirituality in nature, his work is steeped in symbolism.
Maceo’s approach to drawing and painting is long on thought but quick in execution. His method is a process, spending time in research and contemplation before beginning a project. His drawing style is akin to the ancient art of rapid writing (tachygraphy). Similarly, he paints in a form akin to action painting or tachism. His work includes mixed media, acrylic paintings, ink and watercolor drawings, terra cottas and limited edition prints.
He is first and foremost inspired by the people he loves, everything he sees, feels and experiences. His influences include Matisse, the Fauves, Fran Marc, the Blue Reiters , Bob Thompson, Romare Bearden, Catholicism, Hopi and Zuni kachina, New York Ash Can, Appaloosians, Cayuses, Mustangs, Black Renaissance, Abstract Expressionism, Asian Shu-Sho brushwork, Paliminos, Pintos, Zebras, Ukiyo-e prints, Motherwell, Bacon, Fritz Scholder, T.C. Cannon, and Kevin Red Star.
A native Washingtonian, Maceo began drawing and painting at an early age. His formal study of art was at The Corcoran School of the Arts and Design (originally the Corcoran School of Art). A former sailor and artist with the U.S. Navy, Maceo served as the Art Director at NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center. His art career has encompassed education, publications, design layout, sculpture, sketching, painting and cartoons. He has lectured in Washington Metropolitan area schools, supervised arts programs and directed community arts projects.
ACCEPTED INTO SMITHSONIAN
In June 2010, Maceo Leatherwood's work entitled "Mo' Pak" was accepted into the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian's permanent collection. Mo' Pak, is also featured as one of 75 illustrations in IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas.
IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas edited by Gabrielle Tayac, features 27 essays from authors sharing first person accounts of struggle, adaptation and survival concerning a dual heritage that is often ignored. The book explores diverse subjects such as Taino-African intersections, the Cherokee Freedmen issue and the evolution of jazz and blues.