Home Magazine Victoria May talks about her art as an expression of who she is and where she stands

The artist explain us art the powerfulness of art as a means of expression, being a crucial way to break down barriers and understand one another.

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Victoria May is a 22 years old emerging multidisciplinary artist living in the Chicago area of Illinois. Her life difficulties have shaped her art and visions. She suffered from several mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety and art has been a means to express herself. For her, art is a means to be perceived, so someone would never hoard a song or a film. The artist stated: “Art is irreplaceable. It is a crucial way to connect with and understand one another. It breaks down language and life barriers. To live as another is impossible, but to see through the eyes of another is not." 

Kooness: What does your artwork represent?

Victoria May: My works represent everything and anything. It represents life. In life nothing is ever the same, it's in constant movement. There’s humor, laughter, pain, anger, love, compassion and that's just a few. I want to use a bit of everything, just as life is a bit of everything.

Kooness: How do you make your artworks?

Victoria May: I make my artwork with anything I can get my hands on. Sometimes I use one medium like painting and others I’ll mix and match. For style and subject matter I jump around as well. Personally, I cannot stick to one thing. One aspect that I have yet to fully do in my work is creating my own exhibitions that go into newer territories. Essentially, I want to change the space I am working in and add my work to it, even if it doesn't match the art in the exhibition. Making everything that’s added in the exhibition space and the artworks. Almost like mixing elements of interior design with my art. A simple example I have is a forest. Where you walk into an exhibit space and it's just a forest. The artwork would be on a tree, on the ground or just on an easel. I have many different ideas that I have written down, refined and started to work on. But I have not been able to fully accomplish quite yet, given the need for the space to do it in. However, I love making my art the way I do now and look forward to the rest in due time.


Victoria May, Self Reflection. Courtesy of Teravana.


Kooness: What are your ultimate career goals?

Victoria May: I do not have many. But one for sure is to get regular people back into art as a whole. Far too many feel as if the arts are opulent and exclusionary. Which is not fully wrong, there are those who make it that way. However, there are many who work to do the opposite. Being born in 1999, I know many people my age who have no third space. A third space is somewhere to go that is not home, work or school. And currently the only places like that center around partying, alcohol or cost a lot of money. In late-stage capitalism, people are being driven farther apart due to lack of wealth. Museums and galleries can be that place to go. Another aspect is the internet. There's a growing conversation online around authenticity. Many popular creators have been found guilty of plagiarism and theft. As well as the rise of certain influencers whose role, in essence, is to be fake. Art, specifically visual arts can bring some of that genuineness back. It’s hard to be inauthentic when it can take days, weeks or longer to create pieces that speak on various topics. Works that then go on to be critiqued and discussed in ways many people have never experienced or participated in. My hope is that people won’t feel scared by the art world and be excited to listen and learn from artists.

Kooness: Where do you find inspiration?

Victoria May: Inspiration for me comes from everything. Music, film, video games, politics and much more. I have a note on my phone that the second I have an idea I write it down. I type the way that I am thinking. Working things out as I put that idea into words. My notes have no sentence structure and countless spelling mistakes. Because getting that idea out as fast as possible is the best way for me to not forget it. Many become pieces, some I am looking forward to making into exhibitions and some are just crap.

Kooness: Who are your biggest artistic influences?

Victoria May: Bisa Butler is a major artistic influence for me. I am practically doing pr for her at this point. Her works to me are amazing, beautiful, important and valuable. Her fauvistic telling of emotions and experiences of the people shown. The portrayal of life for many Black Americans as something of rich colors, fabrics and patterns. Her work represents to me the best thing about art. How everyone sees the world differently, which is brilliant. Bringing their own passions, loves and experiences to the table.


Victoria May, The Crucifixion. Courtesy of Teravana.


Kooness: How can your work help or affect societal issues?

Victoria May: My work can help people talk about issues that are known yet not spoken about. Many of my pieces discuss societal issues. The work can almost act as a deflection in a sense. Most people I have found are afraid to talk about these topics. So, people can use my work as an excuse to get their opinions across. And from there it breaks a silence that has existed far too long. A silence that allows people, oftentimes those with right leaning views, to think that their opinions are the only ones that exist.

Kooness: What is your ideal working environment?

Victoria May: Alone. I love working by myself. I’m introverted so sometimes it's difficult for me to be comfortable around other people. When I am alone there's no standards or judgment. I’m free to mess up. All artists, even the most skilled, draw a funky looking eye every once and a while.

Kooness: How do you define success as an artist?

Victoria May: I define success as an artist as interaction. When people give you time out of their day to view your work, you’ve made it. It’s hard in our society to not equate success to money. Money is important, anyone who says otherwise is either rich or a child. But to me that is success defined under capitalism. Now if we defined it under another system, perhaps socialism it would look different. If the basic needs of life were taken care of, what other reason would you make something? Well, you make it for yourself and those around you. To share what it is that you love or hate. That is why I think even if only ten people like your work, that’s still ten people. All with their own complex busy lives. Ten people waiting to order food is a long line. And that's a form of success.


Victoria May, To be a Woman. Courtesy of Teravana


Kooness: Is there any additional hobby or job that allows you to develop your creative skills?

Victoria May: Video games, specifically games like House Flipper, Animal Crossing Happy Homes Designer and Fashion Dreamer. The games give me another creative outlet. They help maintain my understanding of things like color theory and composition. It allows me to make my own ideas and gives me the challenge of working in a more confined way. For example, making a house to the NPC’s wants and requests versus myself just doing whatever I want.

Kooness: What factors influence the value of your work?

Victoria May: My life influences the value of my work. Although I have only lived 24 years, it has been difficult and more complicated than most. There is a quote from the show Doctor Who that sums it up pretty nicely, “Some live more in 20 years than others do in 80. It's not the time that matters, it's the person.” Those beliefs I’ve held onto all this time and have gotten me through the worst are worked into my art. I have always chosen the path of kindness and empathy. To answer the original question and to tie it up simply. The value of my art is the value of what I have lived through and how I choose to respond to it.

Cover image: Victoria May, It’s a Dull Life. Courtesy of Teravana.

Written by Asia Artom

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