Maya Smith, San Francisco Member Since July 2008 Artist Statement Art has always been a well-rounded experience for me, both academically and recreationally. I minored in art history, taking classes at New York University's sites in Madrid and Paris and seizing the opportunity to study at some of the world's most renowned museums. Then, a semester working with artists in Senegal gave me a new artistic perspective on capturing beauty in the world through the use of batik techniques. However, art touches me more deeply than just through academics. It is my passion and a veritable part of my life. Someone once asked me why I mainly paint black women. While the obvious reason would be because I like to express a part of my culture, I answered the question with a question: why does Western art focus on depicting white women, and when they do choose a more colorful subject, why does she usually represent the exotic, the embodiment of sexuality, with no focus of her character? There was no comment. I seek to give essence to each subject, to show that more exists in human representation than just physical beauty. I want my art to provoke emotions in the spectator and send electricity through his/her veins in the same manner that the process of creating touches me and my life. I also want people to see themselves in my work regardless of race, class, socio-economic level or religion because everyone deserves to be represented. If the observer sees a subject that looks nothing like him/her but evokes the same emotions, maybe he/she will realize that we are not so different after all. By the same token, if someone looks at my work and sees a subject that looks like him/her, I am touching an audience that might have felt marginalized in the Western art world. This desire to make the world a little smaller is also present in my academic endeavor to live among as many cultures as possible in order to grow internally while strengthening my relationship with my surroundings.