Hello, artists and art enthusiasts! Today, I’m sharing an interview with Maia Brown, winner of the 2010 Grand Award Prize. As a recent graduate from Oberlin College, Maia shares with us her inspiration, advice, and her experiences as an award-winning art student. After reading the article, you should check out her portfolio at our Web site and see how this talented artist came to win the 2010 AICUO Grand Award Prize.
What made you choose art as your field of study?
I have always drawn, ever since childhood. I do not think I thought much about it for a long time, but it became clear that it was something that I not only could not stop doing if I tried, but began to find as intellectually stimulating as other academics. In college I found that immersing myself in the practice of art and the study of other fields (I was also a history major) was an incredibly mutually enriching experience. Art was always a mode to explore more fully the study of other methodologies for knowing about the world.
What advice would you give student artists about pursuing a career in the arts?
I have found--with my very limited experience--that the most important thing is to want to do what you are doing. I only create when it feels urgent. It has always been more about my need to think about something as well as a passion for material that has driven me to make. I once heard an art critic, who I thought to be incredibly condescending and even unkind at the time, say: "if you can see yourself doing anything else, don't be an artist." I do not think this is necessarily true. I think artists have always been involved in many different worlds outside of art--activism, literature--the written word, etc.--that is what enriches or fuels their work. But I do think that it true that art has to remain central to your being to be able to pursue it during a lifetime. This does not mean a successful "career" in the sense of gallery recognition...but merely that to keep doing it (for yourself), it has to be incredibly important. And that should be what constitutes pursuing a career in the arts--being able to consistently do the work.
Name one or more positive experiences that stick out in your mind from your time at Oberlin.
I have been incredibly lucky. Mostly the relationships I have built over 4 years with students, community members, and professors have been the highlight of my time. You find mentors in many different places.
What went through your mind when your name was announced as the Grand Award winner for the AICUO Award?
Probably shock. I was waiting for Amina's name to be called--my Oberlin friend and peer who was also nominated. I have never really won an award in such an official sense, so it was a surprise.
What benefits did you gain from participating in the AICUO Award?
I think having an online portfolio has been huge. Now when people ask about my work, I can say: "check it out here.” I think that winning the AICUO EVAs Grand Award has been part of a process of thinking of myself more seriously as an artist. It is a great honor to be recognized, but it is also a real gift that has helped to solidify my commitment to continuing with my work.