Fast Five with Maya Iman

In 2017, Design For Good will focus on promoting diversity in the creative community. This is the first in a series of interviews with artists from diverse backgrounds.



Maya Iman is an art director and photographer based in Chicago and a recent graduate of Columbia College Chicago. While keeping busy with personal projects at the moment, she’s working on her first solo show. We spoke to her about her most recent exhibition in The Art of Blackness at Block 37 to find out how her work connects with her Black heritage.

Tell us about your involvement in The Art of Blackness project at Block 37.
LOVE/HATE was my first project that was all about race, and it was shown as part of The Art of Blackness. I usually work with women. This time I worked with a male subject. Through silhouetted portraits, I explored the concept of simultaneous love & hate in the lives of Black individuals. There is a cultural acceptance of Black culture – music, movies, dance – but a cultural hatred of Black individuals. Especially Black men.

What did your LOVE/HATE project mean to you personally?
The project was partially inspired by a breakup I recently had. I was also inspired by a quote I had heard – “I met God, She’s black”. My subject happened to bring a woman with him to the shoot, so I involved her. I took a photo that was a recreation of the David painting, using her hand as God’s.

The Art of Blackness exhibit closed late last year. Where can we see your work now?
A few of the portraits from LOVE/HATE will be on display soon at yo:u, a salon in Wicker Park in March. I’m also working on my first solo show this summer. I’ll have updates on my website and on Instagram!

Do you foresee working on future projects about race?
Definitely. I’m always shooting, I’m interested in music, art, and fashion. But I want each of my projects to make a statement about diversity or to promote inclusion. I think it’s important for me as black artist to create that kind of work.

What advice do you have for young Black creatives?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. That’s something I still struggle with myself, I can tend to be more private. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice – art is all about collaboration.

By AIGA Chicago
Published May 1, 2017
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