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Maya James

Artist Statement

Maya James is an artist, writer, creator, educator, and activist based in the Kalamazoo, Michigan area. Her works center around feminism, anti-racism, collective economics and her experience as a cross-cultural black American from a racially hostile town in Northern Michigan. As a young freelance journalist, James’ works were featured in the New York Times Race/Related, USA Today College, YR Media. James is a member of Forbes the Culture and the recipient of the Underdog award in Artprize for her Black Femme Rider Waite Taurus collection in 2022. Maya’s work uses advertisement and pop art influence to express the beauty of bipoc experiences during late stage capitalism to embrace the beauty of diasporic culture while using by-hand and hybrid techniques, public art and portraiture to shine a light on the impact of the moment in connection to an ever expanding and conflicted past embellished in trauma. As an artist, James’ works have been exhibited all over the United States, including but not limited to Artprize 2018 at the Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives (which won best juried venue) and 2021 at the Fountain Street Church and a sponsored mural in Calder Plaza, Black on the Block in Los Angeles and Washington DC, the Dennos Museum, the Black Arts and Cultural Center and the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo. Maya was the first black female recipient of the National Arab American Museum City Hall Art Space Residency in 2019, and has been a speaker at numerous events on the importance of black liberation in arts and media. She is author and illustrator of Maamoul Press’s graphic novel “LUKUMI”, a story of the importance of black female solidarity, friendship, loss, and diasporic faith

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