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Born in 1919 in Ulassai, Sardinia, Maria Lai studied at the art high school in Rome with Angelo Prini and Marino Mazzacurati, and later at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice where she attended a sculpture course held by Arturo Martini and Alberto Viani. After World War II she came back in Sardinia and then again in Rome in 1954. In 1957, she held her first solo show at the L’Obelisco Gallery, exhibiting drawings from 1941 to 1954. In the early ’70s, after a ten-year break from the art world, she approached textile art and started regularly to exhibit in galleries and museums. In 1971, she exhibited at Galleria Schneider in Rome her first Telai, a cycle she would have kept on working in the next years. In 1977, she met the art historian Mirella Bentivoglio, that would have encouraged her participation to the Venice Biennale in 1978. The year after, Lai started her operations on the territory with La casa cucita in Selargius, 1979, followed by the performance Legarsi alla montagna, Ulassai, 1981: instead of the monument requested by the major, Lai tied all the houses and mountains of her native town with a ten kilometres long blue ribbon. Other relevant works of these years are the Geografie, big compositions made with thread and embroidery, and the Libri cuciti, stitched books. During the next years, Lai kept on working to some of her most important cycles, reinterpreting and harmonising her previous works. After moving back to Sardinia, in 2006 she inaugurated the Museum of Contemporary Art in Ulassai, which gathers a considerable part of her works. Her works are shown in Italian and foreign institutions such as: Central National Library of Florence, MOMA of New York, Center Georges Pompidou of Paris, GNAM of Rome, MUSMA of Matera, Museum of Art of the Province of Nuoro, Municipal Gallery of Art of Cagliari, MART of Rovereto. After her death in 2013 important events have been dedicated to her, both in Italy, Europe and in the United States.