By LAURA MARCHOFF
On a quiet, hidden street right by the East river in Long Island City, New York, we find ourselves at the steps of the Plaxall Gallery – a warehouse surrounded by other large, industrial warehouses, luxury apartment buildings, a handful of exceptionally delicious restaurants and ACTUAL green spaces.
Plaxall was founded over 70 years ago as a manufacturing business (and still operates as one) by Louis Phfol. Phfol predicted that Long Island City would someday shift from a manufacturing hub into a mixed-use community, so he began to invest into local real estate.
Today, the Plaxall family provides L.I.C community organizations and nonprofits with commercial spaces for community events. The Long Island City Arts Open, a non-profit arts organization, is one such beneficiary.
Lisa Maria Maya, an L.I.C. native and life-long artist, has recently joined LiC-A eager to become a part of her community’s blossoming arts hub.
Shortly after submitting some of her work for consideration, one of Lisa’s pieces was selected for the “Yours & Always, Only Yours” exhibition curated by Tana Sirois & Sharon Taylor.
Lisa’s piece had to match the exhibit’s theme of “unrequited love”, but amongst other rather gloomy portraits consisting of greys and blacks, her piece was the most colorful.
In a contemporary, “minimalist” centered art world, Lisa’s work stands out as bright, feminine and simply put – positive. Her bold figure, which resembles a fairy, sits gracefully on top of a bright and magical yellow background. “Unrequited love” doesn’t have to be represented as a tragedy, but rather a triumph. You can stand on your own, can you not? The piece suggests that our real world is truly more beautiful than we perceive it to be, even during the worst of times.
LiC-A had also asked that its members submit anywhere from 3-5 pieces on 4”x 6” cardstock for a contest. Eager to participate, Lisa decided to try to incorporate some of her new work into the project, using it as an opportunity to finally showcase it to the world.
The Queen of Fans, Queen of Petals and Queen of Owls were soon born, three mixed media pieces that are made up of two simple ingredients: feminine hygiene product wrappers and bold colored paint.
As a mixed media artist, Lisa has been experimenting with incorporating plastic into her work for many years, first learning about the process from a fellow artist that repurposed the material by weaving it together and melting the woven piece with an iron.
“I was always fascinated by mixed media and I always liked collage…I find it a lot of fun. There’s just something very therapeutic and very creative about cutting and pasting and it’s almost primal, isn’t it?” she said in an artist spotlight series.
Inspired by the artist that initially introduced her to the process, she began to find, collect and store various plastic by the box-load in her studio. Like a child at Christmas, every new piece she was able to acquire made her very excited about the prospects yet to come.
Over the last few years, feminine hygiene product packaging has become increasingly bolder, colorful and too beautiful to waste.
“A light bulb just went off in my head – I realized that it fit so perfectly with what I was already doing.”
She then began to experiment, first creating “Always Radiant & Carefree”.
When asked about her overall goal with her work, or her core intention when it comes to this experimentation, Lisa’s focus remains on highlighting the beauty of life.
￼“My goal is to capture and celebrate the beauty of nature without emulating it. Each piece begins with a meditative free-form drawing which is then actualized with vibrant colors of whatever medium suits the piece. Life can be cruel and ugly, but it can also be magical and beautiful, I want to encourage the viewer to re-focus on the latter.”