Accidents happen—on purpose. I’ve heard that phrase before and it feels reasonable, yet abstract enough to inform daily life. Ukrainian-American Maya Hayuk’s paintings are an elaborate stream of consciousness made in a valiant attempt to contain an accident, and in the process, feel absolute and free. For decades, she has channeled the folk traditions of outsider art with graffiti and street art. Her studio paintings and murals feel improvised, but there is a narrative thread that runs throughout: what is our existence if not chance, what is creativity if not a blurring of the lines between process and bursts of unchained energy?
ElevenEleven, or 11:11, is symbolic. It was also the name of her last solo show in San Francisco in the Fall of 2021. Some say it’s an indication of cosmic enlightenment, others use the time to signify making a wish. The conclusion amongst numerologists and spiritualists is that it’s a moment when we are our most open, or consciousness is most exposed. You may find time arbitrary, and most artists probably find time to be so when they are in the depths of creating. When we sat down with Maya Hayuk in Belgium this past spring during The Crystal Ship festival, we found her the rare artist who freely takes this openness out in public. Her murals and work as a Barnstormer transformed the American landscape into something of a dizzyingly abstract dream. It opened minds to the possibility of a new kind of muralism, something both folk and surreal. But this time, when we spoke with Maya, we spoke about Ukraine, about the importance of art as a symbol of peace, as a tool of understanding and protest, as an instrument of passion and belief, and enlightenment in a completely different way.