Maliya Travers-Crumb, artist in residence at Main Street Arts, during the month of August 2018, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Maliya some questions about her work and studio practice:
Q: Tell us about your background. I grew up in Avon, NY outside of Rochester. My mother is a quilter so our house was full of fabric and craft supplies for me to experiment with. I was always making something or other, attempting to make my own clothes or scribbling in my sketch book. I currently work as an administrator for the University of Rochester Urgent Care system. I spend most of my free time making pottery.
Q: What was your experience like at art school? I’ve always been a big reader and literature is an integral aspect of my practice. I studied English and studio art at Oberlin College as an undergrad and did a lot of conceptual work. I went back to school and got a second bachelor’s degree in illustration from RIT where I specialized in digital techniques. It was at RIT that I rediscovered ceramics and it was sort of the missing piece in rounding out the way that I think about and approach my art.
Q: How would you describe your work? I mostly make pottery, but my work is very informed by my background in illustration. I like to think of clay as a different kind of canvas, and I really enjoy pairing flat drawings with more dimensional forms. I work primarily with graphic black and white painting which helps to create a sense of continuity between my work. My illustrative style gives me the freedom to go in a lot of different directions with the pottery I create. I gravitate toward simpler forms which I paint in a whimsical style with a lot of cats and other creatures.
Q: What is your process for creating art? I had hand surgery about 6 months ago, which has significantly impacted my process and how I make art. I had a repetitive strain injury to the sagittal band on my dominant hand, which was very painful and made it almost impossible to hold a pen. I couldn’t make art for a year and a half and I refer to it as my personal dark ages. Making art is very tied into my sense of self. When I wasn’t able to throw or draw, I thought about art constantly. What I would make, what I would change when I was able to get back into the studio. I thought more intellectually about form, about making intentional art rather than just working intuitively. Although the process was inarguably terrible, the shift in my art since being able to make again has definitely been a positive one. In a time where throwing on the wheel is something that has come more into vogue, it’s interesting for me to focus on something different and how I can approach a fresh type of making. How does creating multiples affect the preciousness of an object? How does this change if you add in more of the decorative arts? What does a piece from a mold need in order to be its own unique work of art?
Q: Do you collect anything?
Q: Who inspires you and why?
Q: What are your goals for this residency? My goal for this residency is to create a new practice of mold making with a focus on form and function. I’m looking forward to having the chance to spread out a little in this space and maybe create some larger pieces. I didn’t study ceramics in school, so I’m excited to learn more of the technical aspects of the process. I will be firing a kiln for the first time during my residency! (With a little help from previous artist in residence Zoey Murphy Houser so I don’t melt anything!)