A champion against autism motivated to use the visual arts to fight for a cancer cure

A champion against autism motivated to use the visual arts to fight for a cancer cure

Maia Chung

Maia Chung is a Jamaican artist living and working in Kingston, Jamaica. Her artistic approach is called ‘Mistakenism’, she created that definition because she deliberately plants errors in her work. She plans to enter the world of visual arts to add to what exists, not fit in.

In a recently published article in All Woman, Maia Chung said that her  newfound endeavour—Maia Chung Artworks—started in October 2015 when she sat outside her mother’s chemotherapy treatment room after close to two years of watching her battle colorectal cancer.

She told All Woman that, “My inspiration came from her illness. I’m a positive person, and as with the Autism Foundation, instead of sitting, weeping and gnashing my teeth, I thought, let me explore something I always wanted to do,” she said. “I decided to explore this art thing that I’ve never been trained for, but my mother had been trained for, so I wanted to give her this beauty for ashes and lift both our spirits.”

Transitioning into her new career, visual art and photography, was not a difficult move because she quit her regular job for 2 years to care for her ailing mother.

Maia is no stranger to dealing with cancer illnesses in her family; her father was diagnosed with lung cancer shortly after her mother’s death, and lost his battle that same year, and she lost her grandmother to cancer quite recently.

“I was my mother’s legs, her hands and her voice when she became progressively weaker, and I praise God we could have those moments, as that’s what keeps me going spiritually and emotionally. Through my art I want to let their lives and sufferings mean something. It helps me to see that even in the ugliest thing there is beauty,” she shared with All Woman.

Maia Chung takes her art to many realms  and plans to use some of the financial profits from Maia Chung’s Artworks, which is managed by her sons Sinquain and Wickham Smith, to help cancer hospices and her Autism Foundation. She commented to All Woman that she cannot cure cancer, however; she will use profits from her art works to financially benefit causes for finding a cure to cancer.

Maia has decided to allow her efforts to fight autism to also benefit cancer causes.  She has formed a social media group on Facebook—Maia Chung’s Cancer Conversations—as an avenue for people to share their experiences.

Having sold more than 30 pieces of her art work and winning two awards of merit from the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission for photography and visual arts have further ignited her passion to continue with her work.

A champion against autism motivated to use the visual arts to fight for a cancer cure

She currently has some of her pieces on display at the Jamaica Conference Centre, the Norman Manley International Airport, the Things Jamaican Corporate Store in Kingston, and Devon House.

Maia’s art has been displayed at the Liguanea Art Fair, and has secured corporate sponsorship from the MoBay Fine Arts Festival, Mavis Bank under its Jablum brand, Dolphin Discovery, and private art patrons.

Also a brand ambassador for the Mahima Foundation, Chung has brought three young artists out of Edna Manley under the banner of Maia Chung’s Artworks, so they can get a chance to display their artwork at the festivals she attends.

“Turning this ugliness into something positive for me is telling people they don’t have to give up. I’ve met people who have been so affected by this cancer that they want to cut their wrists or have lost their minds. To borrow a line from a movie: ‘Raise your fist against the brevity of your life.’ This is the ultimate memorial and therapy for me. I see myself as a crisis bender and you can choose to lock down or take these things which are part of life and make them help your fellowmen. Keep pressing on,” she commented to All Woman.

Chung says, “Life has taught me that there really are no mistakes, whatever the manifestation that is how the thing is supposed to be. And it is out of these human defined flaws or mistakes that blooms a majority of life’s deep-set beauties and triumphs.” Her art journey is about that. She prefers to use collage, mixed mediums and recycled materials in her work.

By Karl A. Haughton

Learn more about  Maia Chung Artworks here

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