Maia Anne (the name she goes by as an artist) is in her early 20s. She and two friends, Thayne Yazzie and Robin Miller, founded Olio Media Group, a nonprofit organization to promote the arts and host a variety of art and music events.
The next event, Saturday, Jan. 31, at Whatcom Museum’s Old City Hall, is masquerade-themed and for people of all ages. Formal attire is encouraged.
Here’s more about what inspires her.
Question: What were some of your early influences?
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Answer: I grew up somewhere in the middle of two very different worlds and have always found inspiration from the duality of my childhood. One side there was Orcas Island, where my roots were planted when my parents put a spotlight on their dreams. They bought a piece of overgrown land and started to create the majestic retreat that is now a master garden. These first years were spent making art, living in our tepee, eating meals around a fire pit, observing the garden’s cycles and staring at the stars.
On the other side, the real world was Bellingham. We got a house on the mainland to widen our community and have more options for school. We frequently escaped from our city lives to visit our growing island home. The two lives that I bounced between gave me permission at an early age to pay attention to my dreams.
Q: Have you always been artistic?
A: From the time I was 10 I volunteered in art classes at the Roeder Home and soon after started helping in classes at Happy Valley Elementary School. My aunt, LaVonne Sterling Chue, was the main teacher of these classes. She recognized that teaching was a huge part of me, even before I did.
Growing up, I was blessed to have her and other mentors who had the gift of seeing the best in people. From my two communities I was surrounded by energy healers, spiritual teachers, poets and artists, but also business owners, doctors and writers. The people I looked up to all seemed to have one thing in common; they listened to their passions and guided their lives around them. My mentors have always been unique and rich with character.
Q: What are some of your activities now?
A: My passion for creation and working with kids recently lead my path back to Happy Valley. I am currently planning and teaching my own art classes for the after-school art program. Along with teaching, I am a nanny for a wonderful family here in town. Both jobs give me the opportunity to do what I love while supporting my artistic lifestyle. I am a painter, poet, wild crafter, jewelry maker, designer and art enthusiast.
Q: What’s Olio all about?
A: Our mission with Olio is to provide an encouraging environment for artists, performers and creators of all kinds to share their work with the community. We host a variety of all-age community art shows that have been met with great success and progress.
Olio strives to not only bring the artistic community together, but to give support to individual artists. That support comes in many forms. We design and create original merchandise, such as clothing, lighters, stickers and posters. We make good quality prints for our artists, along with any business cards or promotional fliers that may help them to reach their goals.
Our shows provide affordable space for vendors to showcase their work for the public. Our stage has seen dancers and poets, full bands and solo musicians. From kids to adults, whether you have been playing for years or have never set foot on a stage, ours is stage for the community and whoever wishes to claim it.
Q: What’s on the horizon for you?
A: I give my dreams life through Olio. I love to create and make my own art, but my greatest passion is to encourage others. I believe that creation, in whatever form, is a key factor to a strong community of happy individuals. I believe that art is a unique form of expression in the way that it becomes richer as we share it with others. My goal with Olio is to provide a space to do this for myself and others.