Dr. Maya Stovall (Ph.D. Anthropology) THE NEW YORK TIMES says, “vividly juxtaposes art and life." ARTFORUM says she "channels the spirits of cities unseen," HYPERALLERGIC says she "dispels urban myths about Detroit," ARTNEWS calls her work “stunning” and ARTSY calls her work “pointed and reflexive.”
Equally a conceptual artist and anthropologist, she is a Whitney Biennial artist (2017), a Studio Museum in Harlem F-Series artist (2017-18), and a tenure track assistant professor and artist at California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly). She lives and works in Los Angeles County, grew up in Detroit, Mich., and is married to the conceptual artist DeShawn Dumas.
Interested in what she considers monumental questions of human existence, her 1526 NASDAQ FAANG (2019-ongoing) project researches and documents historical moments in U.S. history through neon sculpture. The concurrent neon project, A ____ THAT DEFIES GRAVITY, considers philosophy and abstraction alongside history and economics. Her INSIDE TALK (2018-ongoing) project considers life inside and outside U.S. carceral systems, through conversations with her brother, Josef Cadwell. Her PUBLIC LIBRARY (2018-2019) project is a meditation on crystal methamphetamine markets and on city life, framed with her conceptual art practice, in downtown Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (Canada). Her LIQUOR STORE THEATRE (2014-2019) project is a series of video-recorded performances and conversation about city life in the streets and sidewalks surrounding the eight liquor stores in her McDougall Hunt neighborhood on Detroit's east side.
Maya exhibits work and presents commissions widely in solo and group exhibitions and biennales across international museums and institutions. Her work has recently appeared at The Whitney, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Museum of Contemporary Art Canada (Toronto), Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Independent NYC, Atlanta Contemporary, Reyes | Finn (Detroit), Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture (San Francisco), Newbridge Projects (United Kingdom), Kalamazoo Art Institute (Michigan), San Francisco Art Institute, Maryland Institute College of Art, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Cranbrook Art Museum (Detroit), Aka Artist Run (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada), Detroit Artists Market, Jessica Silverman Gallery (San Francisco), Library Street Collective (Detroit), Pop Montreal, White Columns, and more. She has been an invited artist in residence at the University of Aarhus (Denmark) and Aka Artist Run (Saskatoon, Canada).
She has published peer-reviewed academic articles on her anthropological field research and her contemporary art practices in Transforming Anthropology, The Drama Review (TDR) and Journal of the Anthropology of North America, as well as in publications including Detroit Research Journal and The American Anthropological Association’s (AAA) Anthropology News.
Her works are included among the permanent collections at The Cranbrook Art Museum, The Kalamazoo Art Institute, and The Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as private collections, and her book, Liquor Store Theatre, with Duke Press, edited by Ken Wissoker, launches fall 2020.
Both a conceptual artist and an anthropologist, I am interested in what I think of as sweeping questions of existence. I explore such monumental questions through research and practice on the streets and sidewalks of cities, post-postinternet spaces, and what I consider fraught spaces, through a post-minimalist, process-driven, spatiotemporal, macrotechnological approach. Surrounded in history, philosophy, political economy, and theory, writing and analysis steep and spin through all of my practices.
I work across moving and still image, objects, and performance, deploying frameworks of time, space, and place to press questions around historical context and contemporary living. Centered in a critical approach prioritizing the fantastical and philosophical, the possibilities of what I might investigate, and what I might make, remain open.