In her new show, opening Friday, February 1st, University of Northern Colorado artist Katie Mai is shaking the walls of the BandWagon Studio in a whole new way.
Mai’s painting “Burning Mask” is a great example of this. “It is a picture of a weary naked girl sitting in a chair with her face masked by a candle. This represents the weakness we have in humility. Sure the candle wax covers her face, but her body is still exposed. The more we hide imperfections and impure motives, the more relevant they are and the more they show.”
Being both religious and artsy, Mai loves to find the place where these worlds collide. It is clear she is asking viewers to reconsider what they think they know about both faith and art. “I hope to make others feel and face things they have never had to before,” Mai said. “I want my art to bring up issues or purities within oneself. I want my art to make people question their motives, their timing, their influences, and their inner workings.”
Many of us find ourselves weary of religious culture, or uncomfortable when we approach that topic. Mai visually starts the discussion. Her confident use of nudes and figures in uncomfortable positions instantly creates a need to re-imagine art created by a Christian. Each painting is a bold story, encouraging the participants in the show to allow fresh air to come into a sometimes stale subject. Never preachy, Mai’s work is rather conversational. Her work raises great questions about philosophy and belief, but the colors and composition retain an underlying hope.
“I am focusing on how humanity and Christian culture approach God. We can be so selfish and selfless in our internal desires for the spirit, and this show is intended to be a representation of both ends [of that desire.]”
With two-dimensional art as her main medium, Mai loves to play with repetitive lines and experimenting with texture. Each painting in this show has her unmistakable voice. The process and flow of the paintings she does show a very intuitive hand. “The process of a painting is 100 times more important to me than the final product. I never truly have a set idea of what my piece should look like. I start with a concept and go with it. The piece is more fulfilling if I let my expression of the concept develop as I go.”
Photo courtesy Katie Mai.