Maya Barkai

One thing that the artists of AICF do not lack is creativity such as artists like the talented Maya Barkai. Maya is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts’ Photography Department, and has been based in New York City since then. Her photography has been exhibited worldwide, challenging and inspiring audiences to look at things that we see on a regular basis a little differently. Maya gives us an inside look at her journey and the latest projects she is working on.

1) What or who inspired you to want to be an artist?
I grew up between my father’s art gallery and my mother’s academic research of modern art, and so naturally both of them have been very encouraging and supportive of my engagement with photography, but the real desire to practice came from me; taking photographs has always been a natural instinct of mine, and my way to remember and hold on to certain moments, almost obsessively.

2) What was your creative journey that has brought you to where you are in your career today?
I spent my military service in Israel as a photojournalist for the IDF official magazine, Bamachaneh, and landed in New York soon after with a pack of slides and a fantasy to attend an art school in the city. While this was unfolding, I also fell in love twice; once with my future husband, and then again when I realized just how significant this city has become to my artistic expression. Throughout this past decade, this journey has been documented in an array of creative bursts, taking on different forms which have gradually shifted from my most intimate surrounding, to the most public.

3) What do you need as an artist today?
To be inspired, challenged, and surrounded by a stimulating environment that encourages creative exchange, discussion and commentary. Most importantly, an artist needs to be acknowledged, but also be critiqued and criticized.

4) What creative project are you working on now?
My work is currently exhibited as part of “The Unseen Eye: Photographs from the W.M. Hunt Collection” at George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film. I am also very excited about my recent collaboration with Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo, who was inspired by Walking Men 99™ to write and illustrate his new solo album, “Between the Tides and the Times,” that was released on March 20th. Future installations under the umbrella of Walking Men Worldwide™ are also in the plan for 2012.

5) Where do you see yourself and your career in 10 years?
My goal is to never stop being a photographer, while constantly pushing myself to experiment with emerging new mediums within contemporary art, and while I hope to be doing so from Israel, I would love to be able to spend some time overseas, creating and exhibiting new work. 

6) What does it mean to you to be an Israeli artist?
Though I can’t say Israel has been directly represented in my work, I find that my artistic relationship with my home country has greatly influenced my creative process. My personality as a photographer was shaped in large by my Israeli identity, constantly and subconsciously pursuing what is unique and different.

7) What does it mean to you to have an organization like AICF available in the art world?
Having an organization like AICF is certainly meaningful, as it creates a sense of security and a feeling of belonging for a community of artists that celebrate their individualism. In doing so, AICF created an artistic framework that allows us to meet one another and examine our inherent conundrum as Israeli artists working away from Israel.