MAIZA HIXSON PROJECTS

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Mayoral Campaign Speech (Abridged version), 2017, Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology. 

Maiza For Mayor Campaign Poster for Affordable Housing, 2017, designed by Joe Beraldo.

Mayoral Statement by Maiza Hixson, 2017:


Good evening. On that fateful election night of November 8, 2016, we suffered a major setback. Our nation’s highest office would now serve as the set for a Reality TV show, starring Donald J Trump and his extended cast of characters. Ivanka and Jared, Steve Bannon and Kellyann Conway are now performing a spectacle of synthetic enchantment for all the world to see, but not touch.

But do you know what’s more real than this Reality TV? It is the agony of what many of us have felt since election night. Everything we love about America has been sacrificed in the name of nepotism, corporate greed, toxic masculinity and white supremacy. Every day brings new headlines about banning Muslims, bombing Afghanistan, defunding Planned Parenthood and deporting undocumented workers.

Many friends have told me that they now have nightmares about the future of the United States. Imagine—a country whose citizens were once so energized by eight years of Barack Obama’s progressive presidency—now fear nuclear attack and World War III.

And so, here we are tonight—artists, writers, activists, scientists and people who care about liberal democracy and free expression. [PAUSE.] I ask you, what is the role of art and artists in Santa Barbara in the midst of the apparent crisis that dropped on us in November 2016?

How do we protect social justice and free expression—and STOP Making Corporate America Great Again—HERE, as individuals, on a local level?Some of you have immediately gotten to work, formed letter-writing campaigns, joined online movements, and made political signage. Still others like me have, at first, fallen in to despair and tumbled down a psychic abyss, believing human progress has been sacrificed as an offering for blind capitalism and corporate greed.

But at some point, and perhaps like many of you, I realized that anger and resignation wouldn’t stop tyrants, and spin-doctors, while standing up, and speaking truth to power, actually could make a difference. It is a duty that none of us can delegate to the media, non-profit groups, and those with nothing left to lose. It has not been easy to arrive at this conclusion—to stand out not only as a concerned citizen—but as a socially engaged artist expressing dissent against SILENCE, IGNORANCE AND FEAR. This is exactly why I appear before you now.

I am asking for your support, Santa Barbara, in launching a Grassroots Literary, Visual and Performance Art Campaign to end 1) Artistic Censorship in the City of Santa Barbara. Now more than ever WE NEED ARTISTS TO INFILTRATE--NOT DECORATE—State Street, City Hall, offices and institutions. And compared to other cities, we have an abysmal level of public discourse surrounding public art! As a Curator of the City and County Government for two years, I can tell you that one of the city’s biggest fears is whether William Tucker’s abstract sculptures of dinosaur poop will return to haunt our streets in some other ambiguous form.

And not only is there a knee jerk reaction to art that isn’t EASY, we have a problem with the City’s Arts Advisory committees who decide what gets selected for public art. Walk down State and you will see the true diversity of our population but step foot into an Arts Advisory meeting and that same diversity is not visible.

Why did the city pull an artist’s sculptural bench out of the ground on State Street? Because the homeless were sitting on it and panhandling, which makes me wonder are only RICH PEOPLE ALLOWED TO SIT on State Street? 

Yes, we have many businesses closing on State Street, but the answer is not to punish the art. The answer is to work together to envision more creative strategies than calling in the cops and relegating artists to decorators.
We need artists and writers to exercise their critical faculties in local media outlets and public forums, and have the courage to challenge art that serves the status quo.

We need artists to QUESTION the economic violence against workers at the hands of corporations, government agencies and non-profit boards. We need creative occupations of space beyond ART GALLERY WALLS AND GILDED FRAMES.

We need imaginative disturbance in Elevators, at Weddings, Dinner Parties, Public Parades and other Social Spectacles. Now, I don’t do Aerial but we need these people hanging from banks and bulldozers!

And for my part, after living and working in diverse cities across the country and serving as the public art curator for Santa Barbara city and county government, I want to take that same sensibility into the political structure that collects our taxes and spends our money. We cannot hope to change our community by railing at bad decisions from outside. And so, I am announcing my candidacy for Art Mayor of the City of Santa Barbara.

I want to be the Art Mayor that makes sure Santa Barbara stays a free and inclusive community that embraces secure public spaces that provide free expression and progressive social justice.

Now I know some of you may be wondering, “Why not just write a letter to a Congressman or volunteer for someone else’s campaign?” “There are a million ways to fight.” Well, the answer is simple. Because I do not JUST plan to join, I seek to follow in the footsteps of creative dissidents who taught us to exercise our particular voice for justice, in order not to be drowned out by our own sorrow after suffering such an historic defeat of our democratic values.

The General Fund of Santa Barbara, with millions of dollars in annual spending, must not be ceded to those who want to close down progress in social justice, equity and free expression in the arts. Santa Barbara must be a freedom leader–not a follower of divisive and abusive national policies.

We must make Santa Barbara a place where it’s not impossible to afford decent housing while you work in the arts, film, theater, agriculture, and the service industry. THIS IS the first priority—we must make housing in Santa Barbara affordable for average people, including working class artists.

Join this artistic mayoral campaign if you’re looking To End: 1) Blind adherence to governmental bureaucracy and all its lies; To End: 2) The perpetuation of political theater where democratic participation means being manipulated as a tool by the junk yard lap dogs of self-serving Art czars and tyrants; To end: 3) Zombie Capitalism in which our precious time is wasted on illusions of blind consumerism and the American Dream while our environment is polluted and our main streets become hostile places for the homeless and small business owners, while developers continue to cater to the highest bidder.

My friends, this Mayoral Campaign is Santa Barbara’s 1st Campaign Art disruption in the Velvet Gloves of Paradise where affordable housing is limited to the 1%!

And I challenge other Mayoral candidates—those who aspire to lead this community—those who desire to control $130 million in tax revenues—to re-imagine this City under the leadership of its Disobedient Artists.

But what kind of country do we have when the founding values of our nation—freedom, equal opportunity, and social equality—are somehow subversive utterances in the politics of today? Together, this generation—this community of artists—has to say—not on our watch. Tonight, I announce my candidacy and ask for your support. I encourage you to vote your conscience in this election. Let’s embrace our potential and that of the Great City of Santa Barbara. 

Disobedient Artists Party, 2017, socially-engaged project and campaign for Art Mayor of Santa Barbara, wooden token design by Joe Beraldo. 

 

Defend An Institution, 2018, poster illustrating one of historian Timothy Snyder's Twenty Ways to Defend Democracy, proceeds from poster sale donated to the American Civil Liberties Union. 

Reversing Trump’s Propaganda


By Maiza Hixson

In Defense of Democracy features twenty artists who employ the poster as a political medium, to agitate and create resistance against the reactionary forces threatening American civil rights. Approaching art from an activist standpoint, my fellow co-curator and artist Lucy Holtsnider invited select participants to illustrate one of acclaimed historian Timothy Snyder’s Twenty Ways to Defend Democracy. A scholar who has studied the foundations of Nazi Germany, Snyder’s recent book On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the 20th Century is a cautionary rubric for thwarting fascism in America and the impetus behind this exhibition.


Throughout the past century, visual artists have designed iconic popular imagery for economic, racial and social justice movements. In the 1930s, Hungarian-American muralist Hugo Gellert designed lithographs for the Communist party and covers for the Daily Worker magazine, which championed labor rights for all, from the coalmines to the factory floor. Taking visual cues from modernist Russian Constructivist art and the photomontages of the Bauhaus, another leftist paper entitled Labor Defender also galvanized progressive groups around equality.


The most well known artist of the Black Panther movement, Emory Douglas, designed posters that borrowed styles and techniques from German artists like John Heartfield and George Grosz as well as Mexican artists like Jose Guadalupe Posada and Elizabeth Catlett.[1]


Canonical feminist groups such as the Guerilla Girls and Riot Grrrls have designed posters, flyers and zines that indict and critique male-dominated culture and confining gender roles for women. Kathleen Hanna, synonymous with feminist punk bands Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, was a punk zine writer and pioneer of the Riot Grrrls. In response to the movement as primarily white and middle class, women of color like Mimi Thi Nguyen designed zines that critiqued white supremacy within punk music culture.[2]


With President Donald J. Trump’s proposed budgetary cuts to the National Institute of Health, Environmental Protection Agency and National Endowment for the Arts, artists, activists and people of all backgrounds across the United States have taken up pen and paintbrush to create protest signage. Famously, on the night before the D.C. Women’s March of January 21, 2017, stores such as Office Depot, Staples and Target were completely sold out of poster board, forcing some protestors to make signs out of moving boxes and other materials.[3]


Making political protest signage provides a productive channel and release valve for frustrated citizens to voice their dissent. As an exhibition, In Defense of Democracy seeks to employ anti-fascist posters as an educational tool to motivate viewers to counteract oppression by understanding the specious language, branding and manipulation promulgated by Trump’s ministers of culture and propaganda. 


Underlying the political dissent implicit in each of the artists’ works on view in the exhibition is the concept that In Defense of Democracy serves to decry the ascendance of authoritarian regimes, both at home and abroad.


Read Snyder’s lessons from his latest book On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century:


1. Do not obey in advance. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You’ve already done this, haven’t you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.

2. Defend an institution. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions don’t protect themselves. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning.

3. Recall professional ethics. When the leaders of state set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become much more important. It is hard to break a rule-of-law state without lawyers, and it is hard to have show trials without judges.

4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words. Look out for the expansive use of “terrorism” and “extremism.” Be alive to the fatal notions of “exception” and “emergency.” Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.

5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authoritarians at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. Think of the Reichstag fire. The sudden disaster that requires the end of the balance of power, the end of opposition parties, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Don’t fall for it.

6. Be kind to our language. Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying. (Don’t use the internet before bed. Charge your gadgets away from your bedroom, and read.) What to read? Perhaps “The Power of the Powerless” by Václav Havel, 1984 by George Orwell, The Captive Mind by Czesław Milosz, The Rebel by Albert Camus, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, or Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev.

7. Stand out. Someone has to. It is easy, in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.

8. Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.

9. Investigate. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on your screen is there to harm you. Learn about sites that investigate foreign propaganda pushes.

10. Practice corporeal politics. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.

11. Make eye contact and small talk. This is not just polite. It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers, and come to understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.

12. Take responsibility for the face of the world. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.

13. Hinder the one-party state. The parties that took over states were once something else. They exploited a historical moment to make political life impossible for their rivals. Vote in local and state elections while you can.

14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can. Pick a charity and set up autopay. Then you will know that you have made a free choice that is supporting civil society helping others doing something good.

15. Establish a private life. Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the internet, or simply using it less. Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble. Authoritarianism works as a blackmail state, looking for the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have too many hooks.

16. Learn from others in other countries. Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends abroad. The present difficulties here are an element of a general trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.

17. Watch out for the paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.

18. Be reflective if you must be armed. If you carry a weapon in public service, God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no. (If you do not know what this means, contact the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and ask about training in professional ethics.)

19. Be as courageous as you can. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die in unfreedom.

20. Be a patriot. The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.



[1] Martha Schwendener, The New York Times, Seeing the Power of Political Posters, July 30, 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/31/arts/design/seeing-the-power-of-political-posters.html

[2] Olivia Laing, The Guardian, The Art and Politics of Riot Grrrl in Pictures, June 29, 2013, https://www.theguardian.com/music/gallery/2013/jun/30/punk-music

[3] Madison Park, CNN News, Looking for poster boards? DC shelves empty as women's march nears, January 20, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/20/politics/womens-march-supplies-trnd/

President-Elect Mr. Van's Televised Press Conference, 2017, in which I perform as Shellyanne von Einveg, Counselor to the President, Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology.   

Maiza Hixson and Lauren Ruth (The Shaft), Dream Disaster, 2016-2017, post-apocalyptic performance and installation at the Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology, Santa Barbara, CA. 

Maiza Hixson and Lauren Ruth (The Shaft), Dream Disaster: Romantic Paperwork and Intake Station, 2016-2017, post-apocalyptic performance and installation at Soap Factory, Minneapolis, MN

 

Maiza Hixson and Lauren Ruth (The Shaft), Dream Disaster: Tanning Bed Protests, 2016-2017, post-apocalyptic performance and installation at Soap Factory, Minneapolis, MN

 

Maiza Hixson and Lauren Ruth (The Shaft), Dream Disaster: Greenhouse Gas Tent, 2016-2017, post-apocalyptic performance and installation at Soap Factory, Minneapolis, MN   

Maiza Hixson and Lauren Ruth (The Shaft), Dream Disaster: Sales Pitch (Offshore Drilling Your Special Someone), 2016-2017, post-apocalyptic performance and installation at Soap Factory, Minneapolis, MN

 

Maiza Hixson and Lauren Ruth (The Shaft), Dream Disaster: Rising Sea Level and Coastal Flooding Swimwear Line (Deependz), 2016-2017, post-apocalyptic performance and installation at Soap Factory, Minneapolis, MN

Maiza Hixson and Lauren Ruth (The Shaft), Dream Disaster: Romantic Paperwork and Vegetable Compatibility Questionnaire, 2016-2017, post-apocalyptic performance and installation at Soap Factory, Minneapolis, MN

Running For Office, 2016, Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology, performing as Simon Pure, I ran for office on a platform of Radical Relaxation in which I delivered a stump speech and staged a disarmament protest from bed, featuring a five hour durational cuddling session with visitors

 

Running For Office, 2016, Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology, performing as Simon Pure, I ran for office on a platform of Radical Relaxation in which I delivered a stump speech and staged a disarmament protest from bed, featuring a five hour durational cuddling session with visitors

Running For Office, 2016, Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology, performing as Simon Pure, I ran for office on a platform of Radical Relaxation in which I delivered a stump speech and staged a disarmament protest from bed, featuring a five hour durational cuddling session with visitors

 

Running For Office, 2016, Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology, performing as Simon Pure, I ran for office on a platform of Radical Relaxation in which I delivered a stump speech and staged a disarmament protest from bed, featuring a five hour durational cuddling session with visitors

 

Running For Office, 2016, Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology, performing as Simon Pure, I ran for office on a platform of Radical Relaxation in which I delivered a stump speech and staged a disarmament protest from bed, featuring a five hour durational cuddling session with visitors

 

Running For Office, 2016, Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology, performing as Simon Pure, I ran for office on a platform of Radical Relaxation in which I delivered a stump speech and staged a disarmament protest from bed, featuring a five hour durational cuddling session with visitors

Running For Office, 2016, Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology, performing as Simon Pure, I ran for office on a platform of Radical Relaxation in which I delivered a stump speech and staged a disarmament protest from bed, featuring a five hour durational cuddling session with visitors

Running For Office, 2016, Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology, performing as Simon Pure, I ran for office on a platform of Radical Relaxation in which I delivered a stump speech and staged a disarmament protest from bed, featuring a five hour durational cuddling session with visitors

 

Running For Office, 2016, Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology, performing as Simon Pure, I ran for office on a platform of Radical Relaxation in which I delivered a stump speech and staged a disarmament protest from bed, featuring a five hour durational cuddling session with visitors

 

Chance Encounters, 2016, curatorial performance in which I interviewed participants on the oral histories of their tongues, inspired by the art of Lauren Ruth and Peter Schenck (not pictured), Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology, Santa Barbara, CA

Chance Encounters exhibition featuring the art of Lauren Ruth (left) and Peter Schenck (right), 2016, Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology


Chance Encounters, 2016, curatorial presentation on the politics of smiling with art by Lauren Ruth, bathtub of Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology 

Explain Your Food, 2016, a social engagement that I co-organized, Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology

Guacamole + Proclamation = Guaclamation (written for Explain Your Food event), 2016, ink on paper, Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology 

DREAM WEDDING: A SHAFT PERFORMANCE (Maiza Hixson & Lauren Ruth), Friday, June 19, 2015, 8-11 p.m., Dreamland, Louisville, KY.

The Shaft: Maiza Hixson and Lauren Ruth, Dream Wedding at Dreamland, Louisville, KY, 2015. 

The Shaft: Dream Wedding, 2015, interactive performance with vegetables, Dreamland, Louisville, KY

The Shaft: Organic Garden Meditation, interactive performance, 2015, Dreamland, Louisville, KY

Total Wedding Package video included in Who's Afraid of Feminism Exhibition, September 2015, A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, Juried by Catherine Morris, Sackler Family Curator, Brooklyn Museum of Art
 

The Shaft: Juried Art Exhibition, August 2015 

Make Out Mob, 2015, is a grassroots campaign to promote peace in downtown Wilmington.

MAKE OUT MOB TRAILER 

Pale Redhead Urge Surf, Little Berlin Gallery, Philadelphia, 2014. As Curator of Pale Redhead Urge Surf, I erected a red wall and hung a number of reproductions of Pre-Raphaelite paintings purchased from the Delaware Art Museum gift shop. I then spray-painted gilded frames for each poster and made wall labels detailing the history of the Pre-Raphaelites and their artistic penchant for pale redheads. I also narrated the story of the Delaware Art Museum's recent sale of the famous Pre-Raphaelite painting by William Holman Hunt entitled Isabella and the Pot of Basil (1868).  


Pale Redhead Urge Surf wall label, 2014.

Wilmington Trap Stars: Street Art Exhibition Collaborators Dr. Yasser Payne to my right and Raye Jones Avery to my left 

Wilmington Trap Stars, A Street Art Exhibition, co-curated with Dr. Yasser Payne, 2014, Wilmington, DE

Higher Love, 2013, Group Marriages to elevated consciousness in the Brooklyn Museum freight elevator by The Shaft (Maiza Hixson and Lauren Ruth). The Shaft was invited to perform in the elevator as part of the Institute for Psychogeographic Adventure's deconstructed museum tour for the Brooklyn Emerging Artists in Theater festival.  

CUREAT: A Food Based Exhibition with Tom Marioni and Michael O'Malley that I organized at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, from August - November, 2013.

Imperfect City: A Utopian Community and Exhibition at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, 2012-2013. Part of four exhibitions that I curated under the heading of Radical Participation, a series of interactive exhibitions funded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

DRIFT: Artists' Walks & Runs by Todd Shalom & Lauren Ruth for the city of Wilmington, an exhibition that I curated at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts in the spring and summer of 2013, funded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
THE SHAFT: Maiza Hixson and Lauren Ruth, at the Baltimore Koban. THE SHAFT officiated 19 public weddings on the street. 

April 2012:

Sustainable Shaft: Need a LIFT?

Recycling green technologies pioneered in the 1960s, the Shaft presents Sustainable Shaft, a Bio-Powered Elevator. Just as technological developments shape the history of artistic production, art itself informs our experience of daily life. The elevator, an electric-powered pulley system, signifies an era complicit with coal-fired energy generation. As an elevator gallery, The SHAFT replaces electric power with people power, inaugurating a progressive future of energy consumption that relies upon sustaining rather than depleting our natural resources. 

 

According to Thomas Elsaesser in his article ‘Constructive Instability,’ “As Slavoj Zizek puts it, in his review of the debate of evolutionary biology, adaptation and the birth of consciousness, human beings are constitutively un-adapted.

 

‘In other words, the obsolescence of art and the avant-garde may not be an inescapable conclusion to the post-human position. Yet surely any project of an avant-garde for the 21st century is obliged to reflect on the definition not only of art and life, both of which now stand under the sign of techne, but this techne needs itself to be refigured around the notion of artifice as a practice situated between design, engineering and programming: life becomes more ‘artificial’ by being understood to be both engineered and programmable, which raises an interesting prospect and may even hold out a promise: namely, the possibility that art will become more life-like (in the sense of emulating reproduction, generation, replication, mutation, chance and contingency,) in order to remain ‘art’. This is what I meant by my speculation that art and life might be about to change places, under the condition of their mutual, outside determinations.’”

 

 

THE SHAFT: Elevator Gallery As Work of Art by Maiza Hixson and Lauren Ruth

Maiza Hixson and Lauren Ruth present The Shaft

an introductory video 

Maiza Hixson and Lauren Ruth  

The Shaft presents Pre-Vaporism: Movement in the Shaft, 2012 

Gallery as Elevator as Work of Art 


The Shaft is a young philosopher who recently graduated from one of the top MFA programs in the country (MF USA). It rose to fame in 2011 for a series of artistic and curatorial provocations that garnered a frenzy of media attention. Espousing a new theory that “Art is what is made before the aliens get us,” The Shaft’s “Pre-Vaporist Movement” has quickly become the single most popular argument made for art of the 21st Century. The Shaft defines Pre-Vaporism as the belief that since all art is going to be incinerated forever by an uncontrollable outside force anyway, then all object-based art must be futile. 

The subject of a feature story in the January 2012 edition of L’Art For Homme (a men’s fine art magazine), The Shaft stated: 


"Pre-Vaporism is:

 

-A non-objective art movement

-The past, present, and future of art

-Art before the world is obliterated

-Unauthorized

-Genderless

-Self-negating

-Humble

-Participatory


Pre-Vaporism is not:

 

-A dance party

-The product of a lazy artist philosopher

-For display purposes

-For sale"   


Maiza Hixson

Men Are Much Harder 2, 2006-2011, interviews

 

Two examples of my previous projects involving audience responses in relation to contemporary art and visual culture include Men Are Much Harder 2, (2006, 2010) and It’s So What, (2010-11). The issue of creating a personal connection formed the basis for Men Are Much Harder 2 in anticipation of an exhibition that I organized in 2006 in Louisville, Kentucky entitled Oh Boy: Men and Masculinity. I was inspired by a study conducted by Beth Eck of James Madison University who researched ways in which men and women responded to images of the male and female nude in pornographic, medical and artistic contexts. Oh Boy featured photography and video by several contemporary artists who depicted men in various conditions, from bodybuilders to patients undergoing sexual reassignment surgery. One week prior to the opening of the exhibition, I invited people to the gallery where Oh Boy would be held. I showed them 11 x 17-inch reproductions of the works that would appear in Oh Boy a week later. I interviewed and videotaped the participants on their subjective reactions to the artwork. After recording the volunteers’ responses, I edited the footage and presented it as an audio-visual introduction to the show. Participants returned the following week, some with family and friends, to attend the opening and to see their own interviews.   

Maiza Hixson 

Men Are Much Harder (Interview stills of Two Girls 1 and 2), 2006-2012 

Interviews with Gallery Visitors on images of the male nude, Louisville, KY  

Maiza Hixson 

Men Are Much Harder (Interview stills of Two Girls 1 and 2), 2006-2012 

Interviews with Gallery Visitors on images of the male nude, Louisville, KY

  

Maiza Hixson 

Curatorial Conversation/Consultation, 2011 

Interactive and recorded dialogue with Vox Populi gallery visitors on images of rural life in contemporary art and culture, Philadelphia, PA

Maiza Hixson 

Curatorial Conversation/Consultation (Image of Katie and Kathleen Cassidy), 2011 

Interactive dialogue with Vox Populi gallery visitors 

  

Maiza Hixson 

Conversation/Consultation (Image of Anonymous participants), 2011 

Interactive dialogue with Vox Populi gallery visitors  

Maiza Hixson 

Curatorial Conversation/Consultation (Image of assistants Caroline Beeler and Lauren Ruth and I), 2011 

Interactive and recorded dialogue with Vox Populi gallery  

visitors on images of rural life in contemporary art and culture, Philadelphia, PA

Maiza Hixson  

It’s So What, 2010  

Interviews with party guests on works of art in the home of an art collector,  

Louisville, KY 


Maiza Hixson  

It’s So What, 2010  

Interviews with party guests on works of art in the home of an art collector,  

Louisville, KY 

Image of Interviewees Cynthia Norton and Jou Jou Papailler

 

Maiza Hixson  

It’s So What, 2010  

Interviews with party guests on works of art in the home of an art collector,  

Louisville, KY 

Image of interview station in art collector's office

For It’s So What, I tested Nina Simon’s theory that people want more than to “attend” cultural events. On the occasion of a private fundraising event for the Louisville Orchestra at the home of Larry Shapin and Ladonna Nicolas, I conducted a series of interviews on the collection of contemporary art on display. Using their art collection as a conversational catalyst rather than as an innocuous backdrop to a party, I showed the guests, including artists and the collectors themselves, reproductions of selected works from the Shapin/Nicolas collection, interviewed people on their thoughts about the artwork and videotaped their responses. I edited the footage from the interviews and held a screening of the interviews at the home of the collectors one month after the event took place. Attending the screening were the collectors and several of the participants who enjoyed watching themselves and others react in a highly engaged and meaningful way to the artwork. Many guests I interviewed took offense at the collectors’ works and reacted negatively toward it. Others enjoyed the works and the collectors were pleased to see how much of an impact their art made on guests.  

Maiza Hixson

CurEAT, 2011 

Curate + Create = CurEAT: All exhibitions are buffets of ideas and all art is theoretically edibile

Project with Towson MFA Students in which students curated an exhibition as work of art based upon interactive food-based projects. 

Curatorial collaboration with Towson MFA Students 

CurEAT, 2011, Baltimore, MD  

CURATE + CREATE =CUR(EAT) 

Concept of CUR(EAT): Exhibitions Are Interactive Buffets of Ideas and All Art is Theoretically Edible  

Image of Exhibition card 


For this collaboration, students responded to the following prompt: 


-It draws upon your particular strengths as an artist and human being. 

-It is interactive w/ your imagined museum visitor/audience. Who is your audience?

-It is geared toward or related to the particular venue place or institution where the exhibition is to be held. In this case, the venue is a university classroom.

-It acknowledges particular art historical and cultural precedents. 

-It critically and creatively initiates a dialogue with the premise of the show (in this case CUR(EAT). 

-It favors a collective or social approach to artistic expression (i.e., it can involve multiple “artists” or “assistants” who help realize the work.  

-It is both educational and pleasurable for the viewer.


Curatorial collaboration with Towson University MFA Students: David Armacost, Jordan Bernier, Kelly Brady, Yong Jea Cho, Joseph Cypressi, Elizabeth Donadio, Peter Eide, Keith Lea, Zeke Luman, Ursula Minervini, Steven Riddle, Andrew Snyder, Rachel Timmins, and 

Vincent Valerio 


MFA?, 2011   

Interactive new media exhibit and curatorial response to the Masters of the Visual Universe exhibition at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts (DCCA), Wilmington, DE 


This interactive exhibition represents the creative outcome of an intensive curatorial collaboration between the DCCA and 14 students enrolled in the MFA program at Towson University (Baltimore, MD). I asked students to respond to two ideas: what curating means to them and what obtaining an MFA represents to them. Each student produced two-minute videos responding to the prompt, MFA? Students organized this as an “exhibition as work of art,” and invite DCCA visitors to be recorded in front of a green screen as they walk into the MFA Biennial exhibition, Masters of the Visual Universe. As visitors pass by a computer camera, their recorded image is projected onto the wall and displayed inside the students’ individual videos. The result is a virtual experience for the viewer who sees him or herself reflected inside a work of art. Educational and participatory, this exhibition engages visitors on art education while interrogating the traditional curatorial practice of putting objects on display. 


Maiza Hixson, 2010 

Interviews with Docents, Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts 

Using Format