Maya Vivas

Operation Smile

Maya VivasBorn to immigrant parents in Miami Florida, Maya grew up in a mixed culture filled to the brim with Cuban and Trinidadian food, music, dance, and most importantly an appetite for creative expression and travel. They moved to the PNW after spending a three month ceramic arts residency, elbow deep in the terra cotta hills of Driving Creek Railway and Potteries in Coromandel, New Zealand. Continuing a practice in ceramics, Maya now resides in Portland Oregon. Their ceramic sculptures have been featured in an array of local Portland galleries, including venues in association with NCECA (The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts). In addition to being an active member at Radius Community Art Studio, they are currently Co-Director of ORI Gallery. Whose mission is to redefine “the white cube” through amplifying the voices of Queer and Trans Artists of color, community organizing and mobilization through the arts.
I am interested in engaging and relating to clay as both an extension of my body as well as it’s own autonomous being. Clay possesses memory, body weight, and a flesh-like quality that I have yet to experience from any other medium: the feeling of another presence in the room. The use of traditional hand building techniques is the root of my practice. Hand building requires dedicated time, meticulous attention to surface, and care. It is through time spent with the clay where I feel the most connected. Through push, pull, and mark making, I sculpt with shadow and light as an Maya Vivasexploration of the senses; creating folds, complexity and narrative. My work captures the textures from mineral, flora, and the human body, re-translating these motifs into newly invented forms that are alive, sensual and dynamic.
Through these sculptural gestures, I explore concepts of race, identity, and gender as filtered through my own experience as a queer black femme. I am interested in using beauty and abstraction to investigate meditations originating from my own neurotic tendencies, mixed with ideas of absurdity, elegance, sensuality, the feminine, and body horror. Rooted in the anxiety that comes from feeling simultaneously detached from my being but also hyper-aware of every internal and external sensation, each work is pulsing, expanding, glimmering, rippling, and dancing beneath the viewer’s gaze. At what point do our identities become performative? Who are these performances for? And what does this reveal about us?

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