Yah Kakabutra (right) with Maysha Mohamedi (left)
In the Studio

Q&A with guest artist Maysha Mohamedi

Posted on April 15, 2015

In Super Contemporary, on view April 30 through June 17, 2015, guest curator and artist Jenny Sharaf paired five Creativity Explored artists with five local artists to create works that respond to each other’s studio practice.

The impetus for the exhibition was to use the language of color to start a dialogue between both sets of artists to learn and challenge one another, pushing the work in new directions.  

For the exhibition, San Francisco-based artist Maysha Mohamedi is paired with Kaocrew "Yah" Kakabutra. After working with Yah for a couple of months, we caught up with Maysha to talk about the collaboration. 

1. Can you talk a little bit about our own art practice?

I make abstract paintings using a playfully associative process in which the experiences of my everyday life inspire my mark-making. I use my fingers, palms, wrists, and found objects (instead of brushes) to make marks on the canvas. My previous career as a scientist has instilled in me a relentless spirit of experimentation along with a core fascination with how the visual system in the human brain works. Specifically, I consider my marks as points of light reflected off the back of the retina, ultimately causing some psychological shift in the viewer.

2. Is collaboration typically part of your process?

I have done a few collaborations in the past but they have always been separate from my regular studio work.

3. How did you get involved with Super Contemporary?

I first met Jenny at the opening of my show at Park Life Gallery last year and then we got to know each other. She invited me to participate in this exhibition. 

4. What intrigued you about participating in the show?

The concept of pairing Creativity Explored artists with artists from the community is an unusual idea. It brings up complex questions about talent, work ethic, and each individual's artistic ability. For example: how can I engage in a respectful collaboration with someone who might not be able to verbally discuss her ideas and preferences? What are the implications of making aesthetically-similar artwork to an artist who has been categorized as an "outsider" artist? It is an edgy concept and I hope viewers dare to tackle these questions either publicly or privately.

5. Previous to this exhibition, had you visited Creativity Explored before?

Yes, I visited Creativity Explored with a graduate class when I was getting my MFA at California College of the Arts.

6. What has the collaboration been like with Yah?

It has worked out very well. Initially, I was worried that my lack of exposure to this population of people would somehow hinder the potential of our collaboration, so I tried very hard to be open and suspend my expectations.

Creativity Explored Visual Arts Instructor Danielle Wright was extremely helpful and gave continuous valuable input. She would tell me what to do and what not to do. Yah and I would move through projects at a quick pace while working side by side at the same table. I think we communicated well with each other. We also laughed a lot!

The environment at Creativity Explored is very serene: there is always good music playing, the teachers and studio manager and are all very accessible and kind, and I made friends with the other artists. I was given the nickname "Little M&M Candy" by artist Christina Marie Fong. When I brought my 2 year old son last week, he was given a handful of chocolate candy and a small cup of milk. Yah was excited that I brought him with me and the three of us worked on different projects at the same table.

7. What is the process of your working together?

Yah likes pressing very hard onto her paintings. I tend to bring the same force to my own surfaces so I understood, on an intuitive level, the type of material she might enjoy working with. We determined that we'd pursue a snake theme after Danielle provided us with a lovely animal book for inspiration. I created long "tubes" made out of newspaper and chicken wire which Yah could crush into forms. We then fit those forms together into a spiral shape that resulted in our first snake sculpture! I also made snakes out of foam and plaster that Yah painted using her technique of drawing with paint pens.

8.  How has this collaboration impacted your own practice (if it has)?

It has inspired me to work on multiple things at once. Usually, I focus on one piece at a time but I want to try Yah's method of having several paintings going at once. I also like the way she holds her paint pens. I'd like to experiment more with drawing and using different grips.

9. Can you describe a few of the works you have done together?

We made a set of snakes: some out of paper mache and some out of foam and plaster.

10. What have you/hope to get out of this collaboration?

My main focus in my art practice is to singularly pursue my painting; I continuously aim to build my skills and push myself within the very narrow track of painting. The work accomplished and spirit harnessed within this collaboration existed far outside what I utilize in my painting efforts. I occasionally delve into non-painting side projects which inevitably bring a renewed energy to my main practice. I expect and hope that this project with Yah will positively affect my end goal of being a highly skilled painter. Also, I love meeting new people and I am grateful for the opportunity to have Danielle and Yah (and others) as new friends.  

Yah Kakabutra creating work for Super Contemporary
Yah Kakabutra in the CE2 studio
Yah Kakabutra working on a snake for Super Contemporary
Yah Kakabutra (left) working collaboratively with Maysha Mohamedi (right)

Browse the blog archive by month

September 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
November 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
March 2007
February 2007
December 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
January 2003
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
Show All