Maya Varadaraj

1. Name: Maya Varadaraj IG: @maya_vara Current Location: New York Country of Origin: India Website:

2. What inspired you to begin creating art?

I was lucky to grow up with opportunities to learn how to draw and paint and sculpt and just play around with a lot of materials and mediums. I think my academic pursuits were just a continuation of that and I’m fortunate to have a career in it.

3. To what degree does your cultural background/heritage influence your work?

100% – I continue to learn about my own identity as I explore my heritage and its histories through my work. I really enjoy the research aspect of my work, and I try my best to translate the research in an approachable manner.

4. What draws you to create with this medium in particular?

I work across a number of different mediums, and my research most always informs the medium I choose to work in.

5. How does the medium help to depict your ideas?

The medium I work in is an integral part of the concept of the work. It has to make sense and perhaps a part of this comes from an academic background in design where process, research, and methodology takes precedence over the final product or mediums I am most comfortable with.

6. Why do you use the colors/forms/shapes/textures/patterns that you do?

Research and process. I’ve been working a lot with concentric circles lately and they reference mandalas from Buddhist and Hindu visuals. The reason for this is because while the mandalas inspire introspection, religion is often the origin of violence towards women. Concentric circles are also used in data visualization and I am working on a project that relates to crime statistics so the intersection of concentric circles used in these different ways works for me.

7. How would you describe the current trajectory of your work?

My work is currently explorative; one project leads to another that leads to another and that keeps me busy. I really love research, so I’m excited to get into some new resources to ideate.

8. Who/what do you draw inspiration from creatively? Whether it is musical, visual, literary, religious, etc sources?

I would say history and historical narratives – I like visualizing the cycles of repetition and how society responded with the tools and mindsets of that time. I also really love industrial landscapes machine aesthetic.

9. What do you do to pull yourself out of a creative block?

Organize. I find that when I’m in a creative block it is usually because there’s either too much external noise or overcrowded ideas and too much subjectivity. So I stop and organize; in a very objective way so that I can clear some of that chaos and focus more easily. If that doesn’t work then I stop and indulge in some escapism till I feel ready to come back to it.

10. What is the desired effect that you hope for your art to have on its viewers?

I always hope that my work brings up questions for its viewers.

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