“I don’t think we are ever static.” —Maia Snow

When you think of this season’s theme, Kristin Chang’s poem “Etymology of Butch,” what elements / images / phrases most strike you? How does your work relate to these ideas?

I respond a lot to the structure of the poem. The formality of how the poem transitions from the beginning to its middle section, to how the poem becomes full of itself and then suddenly empty. The emptiness at the end the “C. gods” for me is a kind of opposite emptiness. I love the ending of this poem because it leaves you with so much, with so little immediate material.

2. Lesbo. the island of Lesbos is not an island but a boat. The oars are enormous arms. The boat itself is a belly. It swallows its own sail. It sells wind to women who return as pickled swans. Some heroes, before leaving home, carry their mother’s sweat in a vial around their necks. They sniff the vials to keep from straying. Daughterhood is something like dogness

is also another verse that uses, reimagines, reinvents and holds the reader through its sexy and poignant metaphors.

There is something that is so sexy, strong, tender, honest, difficult, and raw the way Chang uses language to show me/us the harshness and complexities of this Butchness. I also love the way family and familial relations are so seamlessly weaved through the often difficult and shamed subject.

There is something that is so sexy, strong, tender, honest, difficult, and raw the way Chang uses language to show me / us the harshness and complexities of this Butchness.

Chang’s poem runs parallel lines to my work in its bluntness yet intricate and often complex emotions of being openly gay/queer. The way she ties in all of these different sufferings that have occured in her culture from generations past into the present. I investigate how suffering lives and stores memory on the body. I want to always better understand how can we as artists, with the tools that we have whether it is paint or language, how can we to the best of our abilities translate this summering that has been archived into and in our bodies and bring that into the public eye. So that we as a community, can sit with these realities and find a space and where deeper investigation and connections to one another can be made.

Describe the work you’ll be contributing this season.

I will be submitting several paintings/drawings that are in a direct response to the interpretation of visual language that Kristin Chang uses in “Etymology of Butch.”

We are drawn to your thoughts on investigating “the nature of body memory—specifically, how our physical and emotional selves carry trauma, pleasure and desire, and the ways that these three kinds of corporeal experience / history are inextricably linked to one another.” How do you explore these themes within your work? Do you research, look into histories, look at your own personal narrative?

This is a great question. When I begin a new body of work, the starting point is often narrated from a personal narrative. Often I do research on Russian government systems, orphanage systems, and dive into statistics of suffering.

What types of ghosts haunt your work? What kind of relationship do you have / want to have with these ghosts?

Mmmmmm. Mostly my mother whom I have never meet yet. Usually I am really good at ignoring this ghost.

Our theme this season relates to etymology, the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings change over time. How do you define yourself / your work? How has this definition changed over time?

I don’t think we are ever static. I don’t really believe at some point in our lives, whether they are personal or career based points, we just stop changing and/or reshaping and growing. I believe that everything evolves at all times. Often it is in small increments that go completely unnoticed for years. Like love. At first we are so drunk or could be drunk with person that we meet and can’t get enough of. After some time, the love feels softer and a bit slower, and there is a kind of sweetness and tenderness that comes with this shift.  This can only happen through time and full presence in the witnessing the experience.

Describe a vivid dream you’ve had recently. What do you think it was trying to communicate to you?

I recently had a dream where a doctor was trying to perform some sort of brain surgery on me. There were three large needles that were inserted into my skull, after the doctor shaved a long strip of my hair off.  I was awake during this procedure. After this was done, I was so impressed and in love with the haircut that was left I almost forgot about the brain surgery procedure.

What time of day/night are you most creative?

I love to work mostly early in the morning and early evenings.

What is one important thing you’ve done for your own creative practice / own nourishment as a creative person in recent months?

Having a private studio. Also currently going to grad school.

What are you listening to / reading / looking at right now?

Lots of The Daily. Lots of The National. Drake. Kendrick. Also podcasts Caliphate, NPR Politics, Coffee and Flowers, Serial, The Moth, S-Town (often several time over).

What role do you think artists should play in our communities?

Artists should be able to bring questions and topics to communities. And ask really important questions through and with their work.  

What do you find challenging about being an artist in 2019?

Making work and having shows and still being broke.

What was the last thing that made you cry? Made you laugh out loud?

Leaving my Swan’s house to come back to school to finish our semester.

What are your creative routines or rituals?

Wake up, make coffee, bring coffee to Swan, ride bike to studio, listen to The National, forget how much time has gone by, make more coffee, listen to news or some type of sad boy music, paint, forget how much more time has gone by, clean up, have a beer, smoke a cig, got bed, and do it again 🙂

What wise words do you carry with you into your practice?

Matthew Dickman’s “Slow Dance” poem. It has my heart. ■

Maia Snow was born in Perm, Russia. She was adopted to an American family at the age of 13. She received her BFA from Maine College of Art in 2013 (Painting). She currently lives in Austin, Texas where she is a MFA Candidate for 2020, at University Of Texas. Her work celebrates the soft and hard complexities of queer sexuality, gender and the non-binary body. A soft complexity is an understanding, welcoming or acceptance of the realities that these bodies live in. Discrimination, hatred and injustice that have been done to the bodies are the hard complexities. The central subject of her current work is the figure, which gestures toward the body as an entity that is both marked by sex and a marker of sex—both figuratively and physically. She is interested in the question of the witness, and the relationship between the individual (personal) and the communal (political/historical). Her work also investigates the nature of body memory—specifically, how our physical and emotional selves carry trauma, pleasure and desire, and the ways that these three kinds of corporeal experience / history are inextricably linked to one another.


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