Interview with Kayla Mahaffey for ‘Deconstructed’

Thinkspace is pleased to present Deconstructed featuring new work by Kayla Mahaffey.

Mahaffey’s unique blend of illustrative elements with brilliant photo-realism has made her a sought after artist. Her work giving a voice to the unheard stories of contemporary youth and, as explained by the artist, “serves as a guide to bring hope back into our daily lives by cherishing each moment not in the mindset of an adult, but with the fresh eyes and imagination of a child.” 

In anticipation of Deconstructed, our interview with Kayla Mahaffey explores her favorite cartoons, who she’d want to jump on a Zoom call with, and her creative process.

SH: For those not familiar with your work, can you tell us a little bit about your background?

KM: I was born in1994 in Chicago, IL on the southside. My style and subject matter has evolved over the years to something I can say that I’m extremely proud of. These portraits connect with me personally through my own experiences of my childhood and by the many people I’ve come across in my life. My style is a juxtaposition of rendered figures and portraiture with 2d elements (like cartoons).  My topics range from mental health and society issues, to the trials and tribulations of our youth, that are mashed up perfectly with a colorful backdrop to tell the story from. 

SH: What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work?

KM: My inspiration for my new body of work came from something I’m very passionate about, mental health. All of the paintings are about the idea of unraveling our thoughts and peeling down the layers of our mind to find the cause of what’s internally affecting us.  Strings, ribbons, twines, etc. acted as the glue to bind or secure the figure from coming undone and to show how fragile we can be at times. 

SH: What was the most challenging piece in the exhibition and why?

KM: The most challenging piece of the exhibition has to be “Bind.” It wasn’t necessarily the hardest painting process, but figuring out how I wanted the composition planned out and what feeling and visual I wanted to convey did lead to many difficulties.

SH: What is your most and least favorite part of the creative process?

KM: My favorite part of my process would be the sketching phase and lining stage.  Making thumbnails in the beginning of every painting always gets me excited to create each future painting and helps me envision the final product. While outlining the 2d elements happens closer to the final stage. It can be very therapeutic and really ties everything together in the end.

My least favorite part of the process would be filling all the solid colors in my 2d elements. It can be very time consuming and tedious. Especially when you want the colors to be completely opaque and saturated. I feel like I’m doing paint by numbers, which can be truly mind-numbing. 

SH: Who are some of your creative influences?

KM: Kerry James Marshall and James Jean

SH: Why is it that in some work we only see the whites of people’s eyes? Is there a symbolic difference between those who do and don’t have their iris painted?

KM: My older paintings mostly had figures with white eyes. It was most prevalent in adult figures but was featured on a few kids from time to time. This represented those who were ignorant to the truth and oblivious to what was happening around them. They were spiritually lost but searching in all the wrong places. 

Including white eyes is all in the past for my newer paintings, but it may or may not have a comeback. It almost represents a kind of revelation amongst the figures as if they’ve not only found a new purpose, but also a new path. They can see what is going on around them and know now how to move forward.

SH: Your work has such playfulness in it and a love of shapes, colors, patterns – What were some of your favorite cartoons growing up? What’s a favorite game you love or loved to play?

KM: My favorite cartoons growing up was anything Warner Bros., Sailor Moon, Power Puff Girls, Dexter Laboratory, and Scooby-Doo. My go-to games back in my day was anything Mario or Super Smash Bros. related.

SH: We are in the middle of a global pandemic, it’s an unprecedented time, and it’s a weird time – What is your approach to life during this time? Are you sticking to routines, or making it up as we go? What does quarantine life look like for you?

KM: During these rough times, I’m just doing what I do best — making art and staying indoors. I’ve always been a home-body and that still hasn’t changed much. I wake up, get ready, eat some breakfast, exercise, stay hydrated, and binge shows while painting.  My schedule has stayed pretty much the same. I would say for those looking on ways to approach these unprecedented times, stay healthy, stay positive, and cherish those around you that you hold dear. 

SH: Favorite thing you’ve watched, listened to, and ate in the last 30 days?

KM: My favorite thing I’ve watched in the last 30 days was the start of season 3 of Westworld.  Recently, I’ve been listening to two artists Bree Runway and Moses Sumney on repeat. My favorite thing I’ve eaten recently has to be my mom’s salmon croquettes. 

SH: What is the most rewarding moment thus far in your art career? How about your life?

KM: Bringing a new idea to life and creating a new piece is the most rewarding aspect of my work. When we find our own voice in art, we experience the pure joy of exploration and creativity, and are able to share the final product with the world.

SH: If you could be on a zoom call with 5 people dead or alive who would they be? What would be the ice breaker question?  

KM: If I could zoom call with 5 people they would be…

 Kerry James Marshall, Nelson Mandela, Michelle Obama, Robin Williams, and lastly My late grandma –  to tell her that I’m doing fine and doing many great things.

The ice breaker would be – What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Online Schedule of Virtual Events:

Saturday, May 2 at 12:00 noon pacific time we will post our professionally shot video tour of both our May exhibitions to our Instagram TV

Saturday, May 2 from 1-2PM pacific time we will go live on our Instagram Stories to tour both exhibitions, have a bit of fun, giveaway some stuff and answer some questions

Sunday, May 3 at 2pm pacific time we will post a full set of photos from both exhibitions to our Facebook and blog

Monday, May 4 at 2PM pacific time we will share a link to our self-guided virtual tour of both exhibitions on all of our social networks (links to all below)

Monday, May 4 at 4 PM pacific time we will debut ‘Magic Mondays’ with our close friend WORM who will wow us all with his sleight of hand magic and feats of wonder. He really is a mind-blowing magician and we think it will be fun to share with you all. Looking forward to having this be a weekly featuring during our li’l pandemic lockdown and we’ll always give a li’l look at both shows as well

New works from Hilda Palafox (PONI) and Kayla Mahaffey debut May 2

HILDA PALAFOX (aka PONI)
Cuando Baja Le Marea (When The Tide Comes Down)

Thinkspace is pleased to present “Cuando Baje La Marea (When the Tide Comes Down)” from Mexico City artist Hilda Palafox, also known as Poni. The artist’s absorbing works often contain the female form. The artist shares, “Girls, love, rain, and music are my biggest inspirations.” And whether it’s on canvas, paper, linen, ceramic, or adorning a wall, her work brings together those elements in fresh and uplifting ways.

Palafox grew up and is based in Mexico City, she has an bachelor’s degree in Integral Design and since 2006 has been spreading her beautifully crafted dolls around her home country. Her illustrations carry an air of pureness and at times, a very elegant apathy. She enjoys mixing and matching techniques, for each piece the results are always held together by  a gentile and graceful balance. Subtle suggestions of expressions and emotions held together by light bodies and romantic surroundings. 

Hilda’s alluring mural work can be found from the island of Holbox in Quintana Roo to the streets of Southern California to the rooftops of Mexico City. Her characters blend in, inviting you to watch, from their pupil-less glances to their doe eyed stares, a seduction that could only be a vision, reminding us of a graceful nostalgia.

Hilda Palafox is an artist who balances fluidity, simplicity and a sort of visual poetry in her work. She lives and works in the chaos of one of the most populated cities in the world and yet her work is ever more calm and romantic.

KAYLA MAHAFFEY
Deconstructed

Concurrently on view in the Thinkspace project room is “Deconstructed” from Kayla Mahaffey. Born and raised on Chicago’s South Side, Mahaffey (also known as KaylaMay) is quickly becoming one of the city’s most sought-after artists with her unique blend of flat, cartoon elements with brilliant photo-realism.

Mahaffey’s work gives voice to the unheard stories of contemporary youth and, as explained by the artist, “serves as a guide to bring hope back into our daily lives by cherishing each moment not in the mindset of an adult, but with the fresh eyes and imagination of a child.” 

Being born and raised on the South side of Chicago, IL., only ignited Kayla’s love for all things art. The artist elaborates, “seeing the struggle and the support from the community made my work evolve to a concept that is personal to me.  I continue to further my technique, and creativity in my field in order to paint a beautiful picture of a new world for those around me. Living in our society can be tough and most of the time we have to make the best of it. A wild imagination can take you so far, but at the end of the day we need to realize and observe the world around us. And the world around us is where I find my inspiration to paint. Colorful paintings that contain hints of whimsy and realism that tell a story of inner thoughts and personal issues that sometimes go unheard.”

Online Schedule of Virtual Events:

Saturday, May 2 at 12:00 noon pacific time we will post our professionally shot video tour of both our May exhibitions to our Instagram TV

Saturday, May 2 from 1-2PM pacific time we will go live on our Instagram Stories to tour both exhibitions, have a bit of fun, giveaway some stuff and answer some questions

Sunday, May 3 at 2pm pacific time we will post a full set of photos from both exhibitions to our Facebook and blog

Monday, May 4 at 2PM pacific time we will share a link to our self-guided virtual tour of both exhibitions on all of our social networks (links to all below)

Monday, May 4 at 4 PM pacific time we will debut ‘Magic Mondays’ with our close friend WORM who will wow us all with his sleight of hand magic and feats of wonder. He really is a mind-blowing magician and we think it will be fun to share with you all. Looking forward to having this be a weekly featuring during our li’l pandemic lockdown and we’ll always give a li’l look at both shows as well.

Virtual Walkthrough of Carlos Ramirez’s ‘A Faster Hallelujah’ and Huntz Liu’s ‘Subtraction’

We’re excited to offer you all a virtual walkthrough of our current exhibitions:https://players.cupix.com/p/7yBx10SK    

Once you enter either room, navigate around the virtual gallery using your arrow keys. (Further control instructions are visible once you enter.).

The ‘Highlights’ bar at the bottom of your viewing window also provides short cuts to both exhibitions, along with the map of our space in the lower-left corner of your screen. 

 To see a piece up close, click on it on the wall or on the artwork navigation bar at the bottom of the window.  

When viewing a work up close, you can then click the Info Icon in the upper right corner to see more information about the piece (title, medium, etc.). 

Click HERE to view the new works from Carlos Ramirez 

Click HERE to view the new works from Huntz Liu 

Click HERE to view the virtual opening tour for both exhibits 

Click HERE to view our studio visit with Carlos Ramirez

 Click HERE to check out our interview with Carlos Ramirez

 Click HERE to check out our interview with Huntz Liu 

Click HERE to view a selection of installation photographs of both exhibits 

Both exhibitions on view through April 25

Tour developed by Birdman

25% OFF Our Entire Inventory of Original Works

We’re happy to share details on a special sale to help our family of creatives. We will be offering 25% off on our entire inventory of original works of art for the next week or two. Prices listed on our site do not reflect the discount, but 25% off is in effect for ALL works shared in the ‘INVENTORY’ section of our site. BROWSE HERE: https://thinkspaceprojects.com/inventory/  

Artists will still get their FULL CUT from the sales and we’ll be expediting checks to each of them as soon as the sale clears, in an effort to help keep funds flowing to our family of creatives the world over.

Works will ship out as quickly as possible, but please be patient and keep the current situation with COVID-19 here in California in mind. It’s about helping our family of artists right now first and foremost. All works will be packed with gloves and UPS and the post are both taking extra measures to ensure everyone’s safety as well.  

We plan on sticking around and helping to share the amazing work of our artistic family for years to come. Thank you for any and all support you can give. We all need it now more than ever. 

New Print Set from Super A coming soon

Excited to be able to offer you all this special print set from SUPER A out of the Netherlands. The original paintings were featured in our Domestication solo exhibition with him, that we curated for the Brand Library and Arts Center in Glendale, California. Excited for his return later this year with us. We’ll be sharing more details on that soon.

SUPER A
Encaged Mickey + Encaged Minnie
Edition of 150 (set)
Each print measures 20 x 30 inches / 50.8 x 76.2 cm
Fine art print(s) on 300gsm archival cotton rag paper
Signed and numbered by the artist
$350 for the set of two

Available at 9:00am pacific standard time (12:00 noon eastern time) on Friday, May 15 via our web shop.

PLEASE NOTE: There are no pre-orders of any kind. In-person pickups are not possible, all prints will ship. No special number requests. Shipping details will be shared to your PayPal account or e-mail (depending on how you pay). Please be patient as we deal with these unprecedented times. Tracking will be shared as soon as possible. Thank you.