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Home FEATURES Maya Hayuk Interview

Maya Hayuk Interview

Written by Trippe   
Monday, 11 February 2008 05:39
We interview up this Fecal favorite as she prepares for a group show with Kyle Ranson, Chris Duncan, and others that she curated in Brussels @Alice Gallery.

Maya in her studio

There are artists whom we've loved for so long and yet aren't really up on the site that much. For some reason Maya is one of those artists... It's with great joy that we bring this NYC based artist to the Fecal. She's recently wrapped up a solo show at Fifty24SF here in San Francisco to coincide with a book she just released through Upper Playground and is preparing a show with Chris Duncan and Kyle Ranson that's opening up in Brussels in March... Maya does walls, canvas, and video. Her work's been featured in vodka commericals for Absolute and adjoined computer laptops for Sony. She travels the world showing her colorful works on walls and canvases when she's not laying low in NYC. Below is just a small sample of the talent Maya holds and what she's creating today.

Age? Location? Artistic education?

38. Colonial Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The most important part of my education hasn't come from school - the travels I did with my parents (geography and psychology professors), who took their students to Europe, Africa and the Soviet Union, growing up in Baltimore, living in Richmond, Boston and Toronto, then San Francisco for 10 years, being in and out of love. When I was in college I tried to get my hands into everything I could (performance, sound sculpture, film, ceramics, religion, theory), but never really studied painting or photography formally, because I was already painting and making photos.

How long have you lived where you live and what brought you there?

I've been here for 6 years almost. Six Years. holy shit. I had no plans of moving here, because I was so happy in San Francisco with an amazing boyfriend and family, cheap as hell rent and no job except for art making projects. I was offered a job in NY, which I planned to take temporarily (and I did), but have been here since. I subsidized my art initially with bartending and scenic painting on music videos, and now have had a full-time painting and photo studio practice for a few years, which kind of blows my mind.

What do love most about living in NYC?

When I'm here, I rarely leave my very cozy house and the studio. I like the feeling of family with my friends and community at large. I'm also a big fan of the seasons and the cycles they create for you. like, I'm working on smaller drawings and video/ music projects more in the winter and painting huge murals in the summer.

Describe your process of creating a new piece.

When I start a wall, I look at everything around it first. What else is visible in the space and what are the different vantage point like? How does the light change? How high up can I get and where will my painting end? In other words, how can I make the piece part of the wall rather than something stuck on the wall. Then I take into consideration how much time there is to finish and what kind of supplies I have. If the ladder's shoddy, I'm not going to try and do something that's got a lot of detail on top. I decide the color scheme based on how much paint there is and I organize what brushes go with what. It's a lot of dictation by the elements at large. Let's see...and then I just jump. I'll start with a large, loose basic shape and go from there, which acts as a kind of sketch. I stand back and wait for the wall to tell me what to do and then do it. I go thru mental convulsions, totally free falling and not having a clue what I'm doing at all, but just sort of trusting the whole process as if I'm collaborating with something outside of myself. It's only in the last few hours of work that I feel confident and bliss out, and then it's over.

If you had to explain your work to a stranger, how would you do it?

I'd probably use the words "bright", "massive", "intricate" and "joyful" and describe music it's related to/ parallels to.

If I came out for a visit what would we do/ where would you take me?

Dude, I'm the lame host who wouldn't want to leave the house because it's winter, so I'd want to cook something really wholesome and watch movies or record something sweet with my boyfriend on his 4- track or make a music video. You wouldn't know you were in NYC - you'd be in Lake Sleepytown. If it was summer, though, we'd be outdoors the whole time and there would be BBQ involved and late night bike rides to a party or to see a band.

What are you really excited about right now?

So much. I'm going to Brussels in March with Chris Duncan and Kyle Ranson to do a show, and while we're there seeing the old masters (which are a huge influence on his art) and hopefully seeing some bands, too. I can't wait to see Bush de-throned and I'm excited for this circus they call the "democratic process". I'm stoked on a lot of the art and music being made these days. I'm excited to feel excited, because there have totally been times when I've felt pretty dour and jaded, too.

When are you the most productive?

At the 11th hour, late at night.

Favorite place traveled?

My head.


I have this unquenchable thirst for music, which is total nourishment to me. I'm extremely obsessive and will listen to one song or one record or mix tape over and over until I have to force myself to put it down. One thing I've been really stoked on is this Brazilian bootie bass from pirated mixes, which I know is totally sexist and violent, but I can't tell what they are yelling and I love the beats. It kind of reminds me of late 80's DC go-go music and bad electro. Otherwise, lots of sad music, classic rock, easy listening jams, light FM, cheesy pop, prog and psych, you name it.

collaboration with David Ellis and Nunca (San Paolo) inside an abbey in Auberieve, France.

Have you ever played in a band? Play an instrument or anything?

Totally, but nothing super serious. My boyfriend and I have a thing called Open Arms and we make these little retarded music videos. I've been getting really into cutting and pasting in garage band, like mashing up "we are the world" with "feed the world" (it's almost creepy how well it works). But yeah, if I was in a band, we'd be totally the softest, lightest, gayest, adult contemporary smooth jams and it would be called something like "I Love You".

What were you like in high school?

I was into everything and wanted to try everything. I was totally into school and super involved. My high school yearbook write-up is this scroll of every extra curricular activity from varsity badminton captain to music theatre. Because I wasn't getting into trouble at school, I was able to get away with a lot on my own time. My friends and I would drive to DC, Philly or NYC to see bands and make it home in time for my job at the record store in the mall. I was a fucking dweeb.

What do you have coming down the line in terms of shows?

- BREVITY'S RAINBOW, tiny art show up at Cinders Gallery in Brooklyn, now.
- PRINTED MATTER 3 at Giant Robot SF, February 16, 2008-March 12, 2008
- OFF REGISTER (Experimental Print Show), AV-Aerie, 2000 west fulton st. Chicago, IL. Feb 29-March 15. foundation-gallery.org
- THIS IS THE FUTURE BEFORE IT HAPPENED, curated by Julie Deamer, Queens Nails Annex, SF, March something 2008
- DRAW, Stolen Space, London, UK, opens March 7th, 2008
- APOCABLISS, curated by maya hayuk, Alice Gallery, Brussels, Belgium, opens march 20th
- THIS IS BLISS, Maya Hayuk + Kyle Ranson paint a massive space in Barcelona, Opens April 2, 2008.
- POINTS OF INTEREST, curated by Swoon, Braddock, PA. public art project April 13, 2008

Collaboration with Flo, Cody Hudson and Chris Uphues. This is Monster Island, the building that Maya's studio is in.

Back of Monster Island where Mollusk Surf shop is. Mural work by Maya Hayuk, Kyle Ranson, Oliver Halsman Rosenberg, and Momo.

For more on Maya, check:




And be sure to check out her show in Brussels @Alice if over in that part of the world.


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