I think what I love most about Maude May is how many different mediums she uses to create her art, and yet is able to bring it together into a cohesive, recognizable whole. She mixes photography, stitching, painting, fabric, wax, and more photography together in her creations so you feel you must touch a piece to actually know what process she has used. As she says “Creating is what gets me going. Curiosity keeps me on the path and assists me in arriving at my final destination which isn’t always where I thought I’d end up. The push/pull “randomness” vs. “structure” of art making and graphic design continues to challenge me and draws me into the studio daily.”
Lately, she’s captivated by the shape of houses, what she calls ‘kid houses’ – the simple house we first learn to draw as children. She collects houses, photographs houses, draws houses, uses them in her encaustic pieces, and makes stitched art works with houses. She’s been thinking a lot about the idea of home – what is home; the safety of home, when people have to leave their homes; tiny houses.
Maude has been making art in one form or another since age three, “when I began drawing bones on the playroom walls – much to my parents’ dismay. Stitching pre-printed samplers, fabricating elaborate collaged drawings and designing tiny dresses for my troll dolls soon followed. With advanced degrees in ceramics, photography and textiles, my passions have led me in many directions and my career has encompassed a wide variety of professions: pastry chef, art director, location scout, miniature golf course designer, event coordinator, photo stylist and paint-color consultant.
“Until 2014 I was the sole proprietor of Spark Art & Design, my graphic design business in Seattle – creating custom invitations and favors and designing logos and related collateral for both corporations and private individuals – winning industry awards with this work. After 12 years, I closed this business and moved with my husband Bob, to Portland.”
A pivotal experience for Maude happened when she worked as an Art Director for a large public relations firm in Washington, DC. “Until this job I had always assumed that I would need to be very proficient in many mediums in order to make a living as an artist. I soon realized that this was not the case. I hired and worked with many nationally known artists – illustrators, calligraphers and photographers – all masters in their chosen field. Through this experience I learned more about artistic passion and choice and it enabled me to winnow down my options and follow my own paths.
“I work in both fiber and paper collage. Books, along with collections of papers, ribbons, stacks of ink-jet, printed IPhone photos and other ephemera clutter my small studio. Hand and machine stitching are integral elements in many pieces and my extensive cache of cotton embroidery floss and two sewing machines are always at the ready. In 2014 I began working with hot beeswax and Demar resin, incorporating photographs, collage, pan pastels and oil paint. These encaustics not only function as stand-alone works but can also be photographed and then transferred to either paper or fabric and incorporated into new pieces. By using these encaustic images as a starting point, I am coming full circle and combining all my favorite mediums and techniques.”
If you visit Maude’s studio on the tour (and I highly recommend that), this is what you can expect: “Everyone who visits my studio (aka dining room) will be able to make their own encaustic collage. To me, simply demonstrating my process isn’t as impactful as giving visitors the opportunity to work with wax and experience the joys (and sometime frustrations) of this age old medium. By making a small work my visitors not only get to create but also appreciate the time, effort and skill needed to make art on a daily basis.”