Photo by Maxine Nienow
Maxine Nienow is a visual artist who inspires me with her creativity and how she uses animation, photography, video, painting and interactive installations to explore internal identity and its relationship with external culture.
Born in Mexico, Maxine studied painting in Paris, Cultural Studies in Cuba and UC Berkeley, ultimately earning her BFA at Parsons School of Design in New York. Reflecting her strong interest in anthropology, one of her most recent projects addresses issues of prejudice, cultural identity and violence as played out in the classist struggle in Mexico. Her work has been exhibited and published in Mexico, Latin America, the US and at the Hermitage Museum in Russia. Recently Maxine has been teaching and performing around Nyc as an aerial acrobat.
Greatest inspirations or influences?
- There have been so many people, places and events that have inspired me throughout my life that the list would be never ending. I think my family, friends and mentors partially because I’ve had the opportunity to see them develop over time pretty closely and they have seen me develop along side them. I think I’m constantly learning from my own experiences but having many people around me that have shared theirs with me I feel as if I gained their experienced too and so have learned that much more.
- There are many painters, photographers and directors whose work has influenced my aesthetic; from the precise lines of Egon Schiele, Erwin Olaf’s hyper-real lighting to Tim Burton’s magical worlds. I have learned from their technique and mastery of their medium. But I think the belief that I can pursue creating and expressing came mostly from the people around me.
- I’m inspired by people. My subject matter and themes are based on moments that reveal some aspect of humanity I find myself fascinated with—and then I feel an impulse to capture and share it.
Most memorable project to date?
- My series “Mexican Family” has been my favorite project to date. It involved many things that I enjoy and are very important to me. I worked with many people, which I absolutely love. I spoke about my culture and country. It gave me a framework to explore more in depth my own background and what my responsibilities are when communicating through art. And, I got to make something beautiful.
Upcoming projects your working on?
I’m working on a few videos for an upcoming exhibition in New York titled “Bridge: A Cultural Collaboration in New Media” which will include video work from US and Russia based visual artists. It’s curated by Thomas Werner. My videos are short art/documentary videos of different subjects that explore community, art and expression.
How does NY inspire your creativity?
I feel constantly inspired by NY. From the endless possibilities it offers, the people creating and pushing to create what they love, to the communities that develop around common values. It is a city that accepts all kinds of expression. I love it!
Tell us about In the Air
- The video “In the Air” I recently made is about aerialists and the aerial community in NY. I wanted to give the viewer an experience of the beauty and struggle that comes with it.
- I made this video piece as part of my invitation to the “Bridge: A Cultural Collaboration in New Media” exhibition. I wanted to communicate through images and interviews what it’s like to build something, to show the persistence required and the amazing and rewarding feeling you get when you push through your limitations.
- I constantly hear people saying that they could never do something like that, because it requires so much strength. And this is true for them, but it was also once true for people that have now been doing it for years. It is always challenging and a struggle not matter what level you’re at. I find this to be an amazing lesson I’ve learned through aerial. It’s constantly challenging and you always come out stronger after you push through.
- I wanted to show how, through any activity, you can express yourself, grow, find community and discover so much of yourself. This video for me is about wondering; What am I passionate about? How am I challenged by it? Why do I do it? What do I gain from it? How is it revealing a part of me I didn’t know? Hopefully it will inspire people to keep choosing what they love with a greater understanding of why.