Memories of Water: The Intimate World of Lucia Maya
by Susanna Kirchberg
The stories which unfold between artist Lucia Maya's paint brush and canvas
are sensual tales full of solitude, anxiety and strength. They are the
private images of mankind's passage through a mysterious thing we call life.
Lucia captures the most inner part of that journey in her canvases. She
explores such universal themes as the loss of childhood innocence, the
passion and sensuality of love and marriage, the sweetness of motherhood and
the uncertainties which these things bring to each of us during our brief
existence on this planet. Her solitary journeys are surreal, a little
frightening and yet very enticing-- as is life itself.
Lucia is a woman with a passion for life. Strong and animated, she greets
stumbling blocks in the same fashion as the characters in her artwork--
holding tightly to the sides of a paper boat and riding out the waves. Lucia
was born on the island of Santa Catalina Avalon, California in 1953. She
moved to Guadalajara, Jalisco as an adolescent and began studying art at the
School of Plastic Arts at the University of Guadalajara in 1971.
For Lucy, the sea represents not only a portion of her youth as an islander,
but the biblical figure of Lilith as well. Lilith was the first woman
created by God, before Eve, and was Adam's equal. She was a highly
independent woman, somewhat of a rebel, and neither Adam nor God knew quite
what to do with her. She was banished from the Garden of Eden to prevent her
from being so provocative and disruptive in the affairs of men. Michelangelo
depicted the figure of Lilith in the Garden of Eden as the famed serpent,
giving her the form of Medusa, in his Sistine Chapel mural. Lucia Maya
believes that Lilith is more of a mermaid-- a Siren to man, yet a free
spirited individual, who struggles because of her uniqueness. Maya feels
that this character represents a portion of all of us, and sees a little of
herself in the ancient mythical woman. Her paintings reflect this through
scenes of watery worlds and compelling mermaids straining against the tides
Maya says that many label her art as being feministic, but that she
considers it more an expression of the problems women around the world face.
Being a professional female artist in Mexico has not easy. This painter has
worked hard to earn the international recognition she is receiving. Since
her first showing in 1975, she has exhibited in numerous locations,
including: Canada, Puerto Rico, the United States, Santa Domingo, Thailand,
India and extensively within Mexico. Her work is also held in the
collections of the Museum of Latin American Art, in Long Beach, California;
the Museo de Monterrey, in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon; the Museo de Arte Moderno,
in Mexico City and the Instituto de Cultural Puertorriqueño, in San Juan,
Puerto Rico, among others.
Lucia's paintings are full of symbolism and inner meanings. Her confident
brush paints a world where solitude, tension and impassioned freedom are
woven together through images of secluded figures, pounding hearts and
twisting flowering vines. Her art expresses the spirituality of endurance
rather than focusing on objects of a physical nature.
"I use the moon to represent femininity and masculinity," comments Lucia. "I
believe that both of the sexes inherently have a bit of the other. A bright
moon is the female side of mankind, exemplifying all that is natural and
shining within us. The dark moon represents our masculine side, the shadowed
part of our inner selves, which is also a perfectly natural element of being
"I like using images which are commonplace and even over used in our
culture-- such as the moon, hearts and paper boats. I depict them with
dignity and a more varied, richer and ambiguous form of symbolism. The
traditional form of the heart becomes synonymous for sensuality, and the
watermelon-- with its extraordinary shape-- signifys not only that which is
very Mexican, but for me also symbolizes feelings of affection and
sentimentality, which are important parts of human emotion."
Lucia's style has bloomed over recent years with the incorporation of
vividly contrasting colors in her oversized canvases. She attributes this
marked shift, from the earth tones used in earlier works during the 1980s,
to feelings of now having a more fulfilled private life. Her haunting
examinations of mankind's most intimate insecurities and vitality, along
with her proficiency as a draftsperson, establishes Lucia Maya firmly within
the ranks of Mexico's most insightful artists of this century.