In 2005 I discovered a beautiful accident; a stack of water damaged tissue paper tucked away in my grandmother's basement was left with a brilliant and intricate stain. Since then I’ve submerged myself in the medium of bleeding tissue paper sculpture and tissue ink monoprints, which exist as simultaneously transient and steadfast. This dichotomy continues to intrigue and surprise me as I wrestle with sharing the unique beauty, fragility, and strength of my art with the world.
Much like my grandmother, who never wasted a single grain of rice on her plate, I find a way to utilize tissue paper at every stage of creation - including the rich and colorful ink released when the paper is wet, the sculptural mounds formed when creating monoprints, and even the tiny ripped pieces no larger than a fingernail which are collected and wound into spiral sculptures. Improvisation and discovery play a big role in my creative process; by incorporating archival photographs I'm able to reappropriate images, bridging a gap between the past and future.
My grandmother always said she “made a way out of no way” and her personal endurance opened a path for my own creative discovery. Art for me is about finding the message in the medium and honoring what fuels our desire to preserve and protect it. Bringing more peace, joy and light into the world is my primary objective, while simultaneously appreciating the beauty of now and creating everlasting memories. - MAYA FREELON
Chapel Hill, NC b. USA
2007 M.F.A. School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
2005 B.A. in Art, Cum Laude, Lafayette College, Easton, PA
2004 The American University in Paris, France
Maya Freelon is an award-winning artist whose artwork was described by poet Maya Angelou as “visualizing the truth about the vulnerability and power of the human being,” and her unique tissue paper work was also praised by the International Review of African American Art as a “vibrant, beating assemblage of color.”
Cosmopolitan Magazine featured her in June 2015 in “Art Stars”, calling her one “of the most badass female artists in the biz.”
She was commissioned by Google to design original art for their OnHub router, by Cadillac to create a live-sculpture for their “Dare Greatly” creative campaign, and by the North Carolina Museum of Art to create a collaborative tissue paper sculpture celebrating the opening of their African Art wing. Freelon was selected by Modern Luxury Magazine as Best of the City 2013, by the Huffington Post’s “Black Artists: 30 Contemporary Art Makers Under 40 You Should Know”, and by Complex magazine as "15 Young Black Artists Making Waves in the Art World."
Maya has exhibited her work nationally and internationally including Paris, Ghana, and US Embassies in Madagascar, Italy, Jamaica and Swaziland. She has been a professor of art at Towson University and Morgan State University. Maya has attended numerous residencies including Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Korobitey Institute and Brandywine Workshop. She earned a BA from Lafayette College and an MFA from the School of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Her unique tissue paper art, praised by the International Review of African American Art as a “vibrant, beating assemblage of color,” has been exhibited internationally, including shows in Paris, Jamaica, Madagascar and Italy.