Maya Mackrandilal

b. 1985

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Maya Mackrandilal is a transdisciplinary artist, writer, and arts administrator based in Los Angeles. She is a mixed-race woman of color with roots in the Caribbean, South America, South Asia, East Asia, and West Africa. Her artwork currently strives to imagine radical futures for women of color solidarity and liberation. Her writing focuses on issues of race, gender, and labor within the art world. She holds an M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she was a recipient of a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship. She received her B.A. in Studio Art with a minor in English from the University of Virginia, where she was awarded an Auspaugh post-baccalaureate fellowship.

Her work has been shown nationally, including at the Chicago Artists Coalition, THE MISSION, and the South Side Arts Incubator in Chicago, as well as the Abrons Art Center and Smack Mellon in New York. She is a founding member of FEMelanin, a woman of color identified theater collective based in Chicago. She also has an ongoing collaborative project titled #NewGlobalMatriarchy with the Chicago-based artist Stephanie Graham.

Her critical essays have appeared in 60 Inches from Center and MICE Magazine. She collaborates with the poet and researcher Eunsong Kim for essays that have appeared in The New Inquiry and contemptorary, among others. Her creative writing has appeared in Skin Deep, Drunken Boat, and is forthcoming in a currently untitled collection of women authors and artists from Guyana reflecting on migration.

She is the Fine Arts Coordinator for the city of Buena Park, where she facilitates a variety of arts and cultural programming to engage diverse local communities.

She tweets about art, politics, and culture @femme_couteau. Her internet art persona, the Goddess Lakshmi, is on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as @globalmatriarch http://mayamackrandilal.com

In my recent work on projects such as How to be a Monster, Bedtime Stories of White Supremacy, and #NewGlobalMatriarchy, I have harnessed my research interests (women of color feminist perspectives, black studies, post-colonialism, queer theory, etc.) to create work that infiltrates our cultural vernacular with radical imaginations of the future. The catalyst for this new work was How to be a Monster, where I performed as a series of Hindu goddesses who had become incarnated in our present culture. There is a long history of imagining the “other” as a monster, from medieval European accounts of South Asian art as “monstrous” up to Darren Wilson describing Michael Brown as looking like a “monster” in his grand jury testimony. Often, queer, female, and mixed-race bodies are viewed through the lens of monstrosity.

The goddesses inhabit this space of monstrosity (the realm of the outcast, the foreign, the abject, the criminal), inhabiting the imagination of the dominant culture (capitalist, white supremacist, cis-hetero-patriarchal), but queering that imagination, using the position of the monster as a place of power and agency, bringing the sublimated fears of the dominant culture to the surface so that its power might be undermined and ultimately dismantled. The images produced are a collapse of history, where traditional South Asian painting styles collide with signifiers of race, class, and popular culture. Like the common and inexpensive prints of goddesses that these images reference, they are bright and immediately legible, but that immediacy quickly dissolves into a network of references and allusions that open up questions about power and identity.

The project continues with Bedtime Stories of White Supremacy and #NewGlobalMatriarchy where the Goddesses exit the imaginative space of the works on paper and out into the world, making friends and allies along the way, causing trouble and rethinking revolution.

The Goddess Kali as Pietà

Maya Mackrandilal

2015 Pigment print on bamboo paper with Flashe paint and collage 66 x 44 inches Courtesy of the artist From the "How to be a Monster" series

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Maya Mackrandilal

b. 1985

Maya Mackrandilal is a transdisciplinary artist, writer, and arts administrator based in Los Angeles. She is a mixed-race woman of color with roots in the Caribbean, South America, South Asia, East Asia, and West Africa. Her artwork currently strives to imagine radical futures for women of color solidarity and liberation. Her writing focuses on issues of race, gender, and labor within the art world. She holds an M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she was a recipient of a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship. She received her B.A. in Studio Art with a minor in English from the University of Virginia, where she was awarded an Auspaugh post-baccalaureate fellowship.

Her work has been shown nationally, including at the Chicago Artists Coalition, THE MISSION, and the South Side Arts Incubator in Chicago, as well as the Abrons Art Center and Smack Mellon in New York. She is a founding member of FEMelanin, a woman of color identified theater collective based in Chicago. She also has an ongoing collaborative project titled #NewGlobalMatriarchy with the Chicago-based artist Stephanie Graham.

Her critical essays have appeared in 60 Inches from Center and MICE Magazine. She collaborates with the poet and researcher Eunsong Kim for essays that have appeared in The New Inquiry and contemptorary, among others. Her creative writing has appeared in Skin Deep, Drunken Boat, and is forthcoming in a currently untitled collection of women authors and artists from Guyana reflecting on migration.

She is the Fine Arts Coordinator for the city of Buena Park, where she facilitates a variety of arts and cultural programming to engage diverse local communities.

She tweets about art, politics, and culture @femme_couteau. Her internet art persona, the Goddess Lakshmi, is on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as @globalmatriarch http://mayamackrandilal.com

In my recent work on projects such as How to be a Monster, Bedtime Stories of White Supremacy, and #NewGlobalMatriarchy, I have harnessed my research interests (women of color feminist perspectives, black studies, post-colonialism, queer theory, etc.) to create work that infiltrates our cultural vernacular with radical imaginations of the future. The catalyst for this new work was How to be a Monster, where I performed as a series of Hindu goddesses who had become incarnated in our present culture. There is a long history of imagining the “other” as a monster, from medieval European accounts of South Asian art as “monstrous” up to Darren Wilson describing Michael Brown as looking like a “monster” in his grand jury testimony. Often, queer, female, and mixed-race bodies are viewed through the lens of monstrosity.

The goddesses inhabit this space of monstrosity (the realm of the outcast, the foreign, the abject, the criminal), inhabiting the imagination of the dominant culture (capitalist, white supremacist, cis-hetero-patriarchal), but queering that imagination, using the position of the monster as a place of power and agency, bringing the sublimated fears of the dominant culture to the surface so that its power might be undermined and ultimately dismantled. The images produced are a collapse of history, where traditional South Asian painting styles collide with signifiers of race, class, and popular culture. Like the common and inexpensive prints of goddesses that these images reference, they are bright and immediately legible, but that immediacy quickly dissolves into a network of references and allusions that open up questions about power and identity.

The project continues with Bedtime Stories of White Supremacy and #NewGlobalMatriarchy where the Goddesses exit the imaginative space of the works on paper and out into the world, making friends and allies along the way, causing trouble and rethinking revolution.

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  • Born: Washington, DC, USA
  • Based: Los Angeles, CA, USA

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