Maria entered the art field in 2003 as an intern at The Cloisters in Upper Manhattan. She has since worked at Reynolda House Museum of American Art (Winston-Salem, NC), the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Hudson River Museum. After leaving the museum field in 2012 she provided scholarly and market research to a private Art Advisory Firm. Maria established Black Oak in 2017. Maria holds a BA in Medieval Studies from Fordham University and a MA in Art History from CUNY's Hunter College. Maria earned her Certificate in Appraisal Studies from the Appraisers Association of America, of which she is an Associate Member. She lives in Westchester's Rivertowns with her husband, Anthony, and their children.
Black Oak merges Maria’s maiden and married names: Dembrowsky Nigro. Dembrowsky stems from dąbrowa, which is Polish for oak grove, and Nigro means black in Italian. Dąbrowa Nigro = Black Oak. Dembrowsky/dąbrowa/oak references the antique shop Maria's parents owned during her childhood. Combining the two names acknowledges the past while looking to the future.