Name: Maya Johnson-Gourguez
Location: Dallas, TX
1. When did you realize you had an artistic gift and what made you decide to turn art into a career?
- I’ve been drawing and painting my entire life. There was a moment in 4th grade where I was sitting at my desk, drawing a face and the other kids noticed and started asking me to draw them. I started charging them 50 cents each portrait.
2. Where are you from, tell people a little a bit about your background?
- Originally from New York but my mom is from New Orleans, so I spent a great deal of time living there as well. I’m Boricua, Dominicana, and Haitian. No todas las latinas estan destinadas a ser loco.
3. How does geography and your upbringing play a part in your work?
- A large part of who I am is based on my family and my upbringing. I am the black sheep and I do my own thing but my familial traditions, and the way we communicate will always be apart of me. I put my heart and soul into my work and I was always told to do my own thing and stay creative.
4. Which artists are you inspired by and who'd you look up to growing up?
- I am a big fan of Miya Bailey and the way his abstract art is fluid and comforting. It has a way of making you nauseous and comfortable at the same time. I’m one of few that have actually gotten a chance to communicate with him and use his work as a muse for my own, and he actually gave me kudos on how well I did with his work.
5. Where has your work been featured and what are your long-term goals from art?
- I haven’t done an art show in years but I look forward to hosting one pretty soon. Stay tuned. ;)
6. How would you describe Dallas’ arts scene?
- Quiet as it’s kept, the art scene in Dallas surprises you. I’d describe it as a hidden gem. You really have to look for it but when you find it you’d be surprised by who and what you’ll find. Art is everywhere and not limited to being visual, there are so many constant findings here in Dallas, especially in Deep Ellum.
7. What are some of your favorite pieces to date and why?
- The Broken Column by Frida Kahlo, Carla Bruni by Albertus Joseph. I could literally go on but there are so many favorites.
8. Where’s the best place for people to check out your work?
- My website. Yannalou.com
9. What’s your creative process like and how do you go about perfecting your vision?
- There isn’t really a process. Anything inspires me. It could be a book I’ve read, something I ate, a smell, the way someone or something touched me. I just go with what I’m feeling and put it on a canvas. I try not to correct the mistakes in my work, however, because it’s real expression and I’m not looking for the “pretty” picture.