How did you get where you are today?
It’s truly a mystery as to how I got where I am today. Partly circumstantial, partly perseverance, but ultimately because everyone and every circumstance helped me along the way, whether it was good or bad. Being raised in Latin America was instrumental to my development as an artist, as well as being raised around the world class artists of Taos. My sons were, and still are, instrumental in their support and belief in the creative process. Every situation and experience in life feeds the art, and it’s not all pretty. I’ve been lucky to have some of the best mentors and teachers. I’m a firm believer in angels and their help as well.
How many years involved in your various endeavors? Of what are you most proud?
I’ve been creating art all my life. My teachers began exhibiting my work in high school, winning several awards. I graduated with a BFA in fine arts from UNM, with a minor in science. My junior year, I studied at Humboldt State University on an honors exchange program. I then apprenticed and worked with artists Larry Bell and Ted Egri. For the past 45 years I have been a full-time artist, and that’s a pretty big accomplishment in itself. My work is in permanent collections throughout the world, including Ethiopia, Germany and Brazil. I’ve been the recipient of three different, “1% for the arts program” through New Mexico Arts. Being a mom and going to Ethiopia, through the “Art in Embassy’s” program, are some of my biggest accomplishments.
If possible, what advice would you give your teenage self?
If I could give my teenage self advice I would say, “Art is a really difficult field to navigate, especially for a woman of color. So if you want a really interesting, adventurous, uncertain and difficult life you are choosing the right path. But, if you want a simple, comfortable life … choose something different.”
How do you create a sane work-life balance?
There is no such thing as a sane work-life balance. Just prepare for insanity. I don’t know anyone who’s managed to ‘balance’ the two.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women right now?
I think the biggest issue facing women today is the fact that women are not taken seriously. The patriarch has dominated for so long that even women don’t believe their own voices or really support one another. Equality in pay, respect in business and justice in the workforce still today do not exist. The biggest issue for society now, is to hear and respect the very important “voice of the feminine.” To value the female voice is critical to everyone’s survival. If the female voice is continually beaten to a pulp, the families suffer. That’s what we are seeing today.
Who are your real-life heroes?
My real life heroes are my sons because they have put up with me for so long. And they continually teach me how to be a better person. And I’m a huge admirer of Amanda Gorman, I’m convinced she’s an angel from another planet and we are truly fortunate to be alive at the same time, to hear her elegant and truthful words. And my real life heroes include all my friends ... because they are just the most amazing people in the world!
What has the COVID-19 pandemic made you be more aware of than ever before?
The COVID pandemic has changed the world completely. It has made us aware of our global unity as a living species on this planet and how interconnected we all are. We have lost many loved ones and realize how fragile and precious life is. This little virus, that is unseen, has more power than any politician, priest or banker. It’s made me appreciate life without a mask.
What is the main message you want Taoseños to hear coming out of this pandemic year?
Main message? I think if people have more humility, compassion and understanding for one another we can shift in to a place of love, which scientifically is the greatest force in the universe. War and hate are shamelessly promoted in our world, it is time to end that violent nature. People must lose their arrogance and understand we are all on the same planet together, with countless species of animals as well. Maybe, it’s not too late to save our beautiful Blue Planet, maybe ... Remember, Earth is Noah’s Ark ...
Watch Maye Torres' 2021 Taoseña Award acceptance speech