Maya Gelfman (b. 1978, Israel). Graduated from Shenkar School of Art & Design in 2006.
A multidisciplinary artist: painting, installation and street-art.
Exhibited nine solo exhibitions in Israel, Europe and Asia, and participated in dozens of group shows. Among others at the Israel National Museum, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Haifa Museum of Art, The National Gallery in Bangkok, Art Rooms Art Fair in London, Overture Miami Art Fair (Art Basel Satellite), Tama University of Art in Tokyo, The Smithsonian and National Cathedral in Washington D.C (By The People Art Festival).
Featured in the media, print and online, films and TV, and published in four international art books: "Unravelling Women’s Art, England, 2022”,
“Al camello camello y al amor amor, Colombia, 2018”, “Wall, wall, France, 2016”, “Street Messages, Germany, 2015”.
In 2013 Gelfman gave a TEDx talk about her artistic process, sharing the stage with Tel Aviv’s prominent women leaders.
In 2015 Paper Magazine named her among the top ten street-artists in Israel.
Back in 2009 Maya co-founded a street-art project with her partner, Roie Avidan called Mind the Heart! Project, that reached over 100 cities
across 5 continents and exhibited extensively. Gelfman's unique technique of drawing on walls with tangible materials (yarn, foam, duct-tape)
and Avidan's poetic approach to photography and wordsmithing are the project's signature style.
Between 2017-2021 the duo created The Serendipity Experiment - a 365/24/7 performance in public - spanning 100,000 KM (60,000 miles),
in 45 states, all across the U.S.A.
This journey entailed committing to intentional wandering and the use of the unknown as a guiding tool.
To enhance these guidelines they donated their belongings, left their home and traveled to a foreign country, and invited strangers to dictate their route, schedule, and next encounters. At every location that they were sent to, they created a site-specific work. Culminating in hundreds of works, meaningful interactions, exhibitions and lectures.
My work investigates different facets of trauma, both on an individual and systemic level. Through it I explore a foundational query:
Can traumatic events also serve as beneficial catalysts, gateways to profound realizations having to do with power and choice?
While researching trauma began from a personal history, the impact of traumatic events is omnipresent in culture at large, which fuels my artistic explorations even further.
As a child, I lived through a near-death experience while undergoing heart surgery. Experiencing that visceral connection between life and death informed the way I work today. I understood at an early age that opposing forces can, and often do, co-exist. It initiated an inquisitorial approach to contradictions and inspired an artistic-somatic practice. Integrating art making with meditative (felt-sense) practices allows me to come face to face
with my mortality, and the fear, pain, vulnerability, resilience, life-force and joy it invokes.
External forces shape inner landscapes and I believe that, while more nuanced, the same can be said vice versa.
Dichotomies may initially appear contradictory - notions such as weakness as a source of strength or beauty that encompasses crudeness -
but they can form a symbiotic relationship. By transforming these confrontations into a creative process, I seek to find agency, balance and release.
My work is grounded in the idea of Symbiosis. It's multidisciplinary in every aspect, from the mixed-media materials all the way to how they are made and where they are being exhibited. This also facilitated the decision to work in two parallel fields – the ‘white cubes’ and the public spaces.
In both arenas, the works are handmade, tactile, and conscious of their space. In the streets, they’re created as a performative action, reacting to
a specific location and point in time. In the studio, the canvas is laid on the floor and the marks are intrinsically connected to the body’s sensations
* * *
Breakdown of series:
The early Paintings ("Red Heart", 2007/8 and 2009) are naïve drawings of bodies and situations, subtle yet disturbing. Minimalist figures floating
in white spaces. With time, layers appear ("Illusions & Reality", 2010-2012 and 2013), representing the struggle to resolve past, present and future.
In these years I practiced a slow Sisyphean process, in which I was working for months on each piece.
Then a change took place, and my practice shifted into a dance-like rituals. ("Release", 2014-2016). These paintings were done in one continuous session. Each session took between a day to three days of working continuously.
The Serendipity Experiment 2017-2021
Between 2017 to 2021 I was immersed in an experimental performance. Together with my partner I traveled across the USA, over 100,000 km (60,000 miles), creating site-specific works in public spaces, daily.
Living on the road for four years (of which two in the pandemic), all the while dedicating myself to “the unknown” as a guiding tool, herald another big shift in my process. It changed the way I perceive stability, home, possessions, necessity. It altered the way I lived and subsequently, the way I created.
The Unimaginable Horizon 2022-2023
Thus, my return to the studio in late 2021, uncovered the tantalizing realization that this journey of serendipity, fundamentally changed my work. Inspirations and techniques that I had previously relied on now felt rusty, irrelevant. I couldn’t just pick up from where I left off, but rather, had to allow the full breadth of my experiences to manifest directly onto the canvas. Free of the need to adhere to one "coherent" idea, an uninhibited creativity was unleashed. So far, I’ve painted fifty paintings, intuitive works that represent a form of cartography – to places within and without, familiar and unknown –they can be read as maps to blocked paths and new roads.
CV / Resume
Born in 1978, Israel
2001-2006, graduated with a BA from Shenkar School of Art & Design in 2006
Mediums: Painting, Installation, Street-art
Bodies of Work, ONKAF Gallery, New Delhi, India
The Unimaginable Horizon, AG18 Gallery, Vienna, Austria
Form, Re-Form, AG18 Gallery, Vienna, Austria
Outside looking in, National Art Gallery, Bangkok, Thailand
Split Ends, Tel Aviv Artist House, Israel
Spark, Zadik Gallery, Jaffa, Israel
Process, Tel Aviv City Municipality Arts and Culture division, Israel
Rise!, Tsuk Gallery, Netanya, Israel
Heartbeats, Weiss House, Tel Aviv, Israel
Strings, Artists House, Tel Aviv, Israel
Metamorphosis: The Place of the Past in the Present, CITYarts, Orlando, FL, USA
ARTROOMS, Meliá White House, London England
Radical Love, Crypt Gallery, London England
Wire/less Connections, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Vitrinart, The Tel-Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv
Grand Opening, Milu Gallery Hotel, Florence Italy
Stories the Streets tell, The Israeli Children’s Museum, Holon
Hamekarer, The Old Wholesale Marketplace, Tel Aviv
S2G, kulturkueche, Monchengladbach
Presence, Tirosh Gallery, Tel Aviv
Temporary Crew, St.Art Gallery, Tel Aviv
Slideluck III, Tel Aviv
Launching Meshuna, Meshuna Gallery, Tel Aviv
Testing Tools Festival #10, Beit Tami, Tel Aviv
Note to Selves, Container, Jaffa port
7F, 7th Floor, Tel Aviv
Base Colors #2, Israel-Lebanon border, Activism Art event at IDF military bases
Heroes in Distress, Art Basel, Miami, Overture/Scope art fair
Once I was a House, art event, Caesarea
Small Scale - 20\20, Zadik Gallery, Tel Aviv
Creation Cycle, Hangar 2, Jaffa Port
Free Art Friday, Tel Aviv
Spring Festival, Shapira Neighbourhood, Tel Aviv
Base Colors #1, Israel-Syria border, Activism Art event at IDF military bases
On the Fence #3, Jaffa
Love Art Make Art, Open Studio, Tel Aviv
Haifa Walks, Haifa Museum of Art
ZEMIKEA, Tsuk Gallery, Netanya
Mind the Heart, The Container, Tel Aviv
Sea Breeze, Artist Residency, Bat Yam
On the Fence #2, Jaffa
Mind the Heart, Dining Room, Tel Aviv
Ward Nasse, Ward Nasse Gallery, New York
Cannons & Muses, Tama University of Art, Tokyo
de:frost Festival, Jerusalem
Biennial #2, Herzliya
Secret Art #4, Beit Mani, Tel Aviv
Love Art Make Art, Open Studio, Tel Aviv
Tan, P8 Gallery, Tel Aviv
184.108.40.206 I Declare an Art War, Shorashim Gallery
White Trash, Tel Aviv
It’s a Small Big World, Tel Aviv Museum of Art
Designers of the Future, Tel Aviv, Reading Power Station
International Woman’s Day, Tel Aviv University
Dialogue, Tzavta Theater, Tel Aviv
Artist in Residence, at Swatch Art Peace Hotel Residency, Shanghai, China (June-September)
Artist in Residence, at Windgate Residency, KSU University, Georgia, USA (September-October)
Artists of the season, at the Core Dance Company, Atlanta, USA (April-May)
NTTL & SEED, at the Roza Center for International and Interdisciplinary Art, Krakow, Poland (June)
The Poland Project, at the Sichow Foundation, Krakow, Poland (Feb)
Halcyon House fellowship, Shortlisted
Collaborations & Public Actions (under Mind the Heart! Project)
Wishing Wall, Georgia Highlands College, Cartersville, GE, USA
Mantra, Mural, Core Dance, Atlanta, GE, USA
Bodies of Work, Solo Exhibition, ONKAF Gallery, New Delhi, India
SEED, Rosa Foundation, Artist Residency, Krakow, Poland
Looking at Place, Katzman Contemporary, Dover, NH, USA
O/Art, fundraiser for Ukraine, Atlanta-Chattanooga, TN & GA, USA
Introduce Yourself, Kliger Gallery, Lund, Sweden
The Poland Project, Sichow Foundation, Artist Residency, Krakow, Poland
New Poetics of Labor, Al camello camello y al amor amor, Espacio, Medellín, Colombia
MTH! in D.C. at By The People Arts Festival (Smisthonian, National Cathedral, Union Market,
~ Walter Reed & The Arc West, Washington, D.C.)
Bodies of Water, Site specific piece in the University of Central Arkansas, Conway, AR
The Spaces Between #1, JCC, Foster City, CA, USA
The Spaces Between #2, PJCC, San Rafael, CA, USA
MTH! in Houston, at the City Hall & Brown Convention Center, Houston, TX
Towards One: Site specific, permanent piece in Building 98, Marfa, TX
Be Here Now, Site specific, permanent piece in Creative Discovery Museum, Chattanooga, TN
MTH! in Hillary R. Clinton Library, Little Rock, AR
MTH! in Atlanta, at The Decatur Art Alliance, Decatur, GA
MTH! in Apopka, at the HCC, Apopka, FL
MTH! in Portsmouth, at Prescott Park & 3S Gallery, Portsmouth, NH
MTH! in Tel Aviv, Pilot for USA Tour at Beit Tami, Tel Aviv, Israel
Publications and Books
2022 Book, "Unravelling Women’s Art, by PL Henderson, Aurora Metro books, England
2018 Book, "Al camello camello y al amor amor" by Cristina Velásquez, NPOL, Colombia
2016 Book, "Wall, wall" by Dominque Lafon, France
2015 Book, "Street Messages" by Nicholas Ganz, Dokument Press, Germany
* Curitorial texts: www.mayagelfman.com/curatorial-texts
Press & selected articles: www.mayagelfman.com/press
Swatch Art Peace Hotel, Shanghai, China
Historic Building 98. Marfa TX, USA
Creative Discovery Museum, Chattanooga TN, USA
Lettenmayer & partners, Czech Republic
MILU Art Hotel, Florence, Italy
Magdas Hotel, Vienna, Austria
Margot & Michael Schmitz, Vienna Austria
Herzliya Municipal Library, Israel
Rivka Saker, Caesarea, Israel
>> back to Home