Maya Hayuk Interview by Erin Leigh
Maya Hayuk is one of those unexplainable massive talents. Besides doing incredible murals, beautiful acrylics on canvas and other dimensional screen prints, she ‘dabbles’ in various projects like.. album covers, videos and stage design for musicians like The Beastie Boys, TV on The Radio and Flaming Lips,(to name a few). She’s released two books Just Good Vibes, 2007 and Round The Way, 2010. She’s worked with Ray Ban, Oakley Hall, and Warp Records. She curated and produced THIS WALL COULD BE YOUR LIFE in 2005 for the legendary Monster Island/Secret Project Robot in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She has been a member of the artist collective BARNSTORMERS since 2002.
The HIGH FIVE group exhibition here in Los Angeles at New image Gallery included her work as well as other major talents Deanna Templeton, Ashley Macomber, Vanessa Prager, Curtis Kulig and Alia Penner. Currently her solo exhibition Apocabliss is at the beautiful Anonymous Gallery in Mexico City. She also contributed an awe inspiring mural for the remarkable OPEN WALLS BALTIMORE described as; an unparalleled street art project of the finest and most recognized street artists from around the world. Maya Hayuk is obviously a huge influence in the art community but she also happens to be a major inspiration for me. Needless to say when she agreed to the interview I was stoked to have the opportunity to talk with her.
Hi Maya, first off, thank you so much for taking the time out to talk with us! I know you are in Mexico City right now for your solo show which must be really exciting, congratulations! The show is called Apocabliss, love that, can you tell us more about the title and the exhibition itself, the work and your inspirations?
Hi Erin! Thanks for wondering about what i’ve been up to. The show I just opened in Mexico City was called “2012 Apocabliss”, because this is the year that the Mayan Calendar alleges world ends. I wanted to connect the word Apocalypse and Bliss in the hope that we can reject ancient end-of-times visions and create our own prophecies for a more positive outlook of the future. The show is a series of paintings, a lot of which look like portals to the other side.
I was checking out The Anonymous Gallery in Mexico and it looks amazing, I’m really curious about the art scene, more specific, the street art scene in Mexico City. Can you talk about the general vibe, the local street artists and what its like for yourself to be there.
The most amazing painting I saw on the street were hand-painted ads along the highway. there were incredible hand styles, and acid-bright colors in great gradient fades. There is a ton of mural painting and painting in general outside. it’s incredible and inspiring. the vibe in the neighborhood where I stayed (Roma) was super mellow and gorgeous. There were lots of parks and it had a true living feeling, which made me feel at home.
So Maya! Where are you from? Can you talk a little about your background, where you grew up, your influences, maybe how or when your artistic expression starting taking shape?
I was born in & grew up in Baltimore, moved around after high school to go to a couple different colleges, then landed in San Francisco for a while. now i’m in Brooklyn. I was always way more involved in the music scene, taking pictures of bands and making posters for shows. At that time and in Baltimore, Boston, SF, the art and music scenes were really one and the same. I think my earliest memories of making things came from my Ukrainian grandmothers who taught me crafts like embroidery and batik easter eggs.
You curated and produced THIS WALL COULD BE YOUR LIFE, in Brooklyn. I was sad to hear that it will be demolished soon. Can you tell us more about that project, what it means to you and if you have any future plans for something similar.
I was lucky to have been a part of that community (and still am, it’s just scattered now). When we moved in I asked the landlord if I could ‘cover the graffiti” and THIS WALL COULD BE YOUR LIFE was born. We never had any problems with cops until the moment anyone used a spray can. They would hear the shaking ball bearing from a mile away and be right on top of us asking for permits and threatening to arrest us. As long as we stuck to bucket paint, we somehow did some kind of Jedi mind trick that we were supposed to be there. The mural project that I curated took many incarnations over seven years. at the very end of our time there, I invited all of my friends up on the roof and we poured all of the extra paint down the walls, which drew a kind of symbolic curtain over all of the hard work we did. It felt good to do that ourselves, rather than see a wrecking ball go through some incredible art.
As far as the building itself, it was called MONSTER ISLAND and housed Secret Project Robot, Kayrock Screenprinting, Mollusk Surf Shop, tons of practice spaces, etc. A couple of people found this building that had been sitting vacant for a while and got a seven year lease. we knew the whole time that it would be over at the seven-year mark, because the zoning laws changed while we were there and suddenly all these fancy, chrome and glass high-rises mushroomed up all around us. Our building was a little utopia in the midst of all of that. it was the perfect working environment for me; I had a lot of private space, but I also had access to a community of creative people, who always had something amazing, random and fun going on. We would project video games on the oil cisterns across the street, we’d have BBQ’s and parties and art shows and music shows. There’s a lot of energy in the world for places like this.
You’re part of the beautiful HIGH FIVE show here in Los Angeles, I was wondering though where else we can find you, We’d love to see your work on our streets! Do you have any plans for anything like that and what are some other things we can look forward to from you in the future?
I am yet to paint a mural in LA, but would really love to someday. I am excited about the HIGH FIVE show, because New Image Art is awesome and Ashley Macomber is one of my favorite artists. This month I am living on Fishers Island in the Long Island Sound of NY on a Lighthouse Works Fellowship where my studio space is a decommissioned Ferry Building and I live in a gorgeous converted barn. I’m in SF right now in the midst of that to install work into the epic show that Chris Johanson curated at Luggage Store Gallery called “Streetopia”. In june I should be getting back to London to publish another print with Pictures On Walls, then i’ll be working on an installation for a group show in NY that Scott Hug is curating called B-OUT. I’ll be getting down to Baltimore at some point to finish painting the mural I started there for Gaia’s Open Walls and I should be in Atlanta working on a mural for Living walls later in the summer. In September I will be opening a solo show at Cooper Cole Gallery in Toronto and painting a mural somewhere there, too. Phew (In a deep breath).
Again, thank you so much Maya for your time and your beautiful work and influence!
- Erin Leigh