Artist Spotlight: Kristine Mays
“I remember the fear that surrounded the city when people did not know how AIDS was transmitted,” artist Kristine Mays recalls about the 80s. “Although I was in junior high at the time, it remained etched in my memory.”
For Mays, who has been a generous Art for AIDS donor—those incredible twisted-wire bodies are her work—it seems a foregone conclusion that, “The idea of helping each other as a community makes sense.”
In 1996 Mays bought some wire to make some candleholders for Christmas gifts. As she experimented with shape and form, she discovered the possibilities of working with what was a new medium: “I wanted to take what was in my head and heart and transform it into a physical object.”
For Mays, wire enables her to work with the human form and to freeze moments of time. It’s easy to see how her Art for AIDS donations, form-fitting wire dresses, and one year a suit jacket, arise from her desire to examine the ways people move in their clothing and her attempt to capture the soul and essence of a person: the wire garments seem to sashay across the live auction stage.
It’s no surprise then that Mays attracts a wide range of collectors. Her work hangs in Bay Area homes and numerous private collections throughout the country. In addition, she frequently collaborates with others. This past month alone, she joined muralist Shawn Bullen in adding Bessie Smith and Etta James to the walls of a popular San Francisco music spot, The Boom Boom Room.
When not busy making sculpture, Mays is doing what she calls a “hobby,” but which must count as research: people-watching. “There is such an eclectic mix of personalities, styles, and perspectives here in San Francisco that this hobby never gets old or predictable,” she says with her room-lighting smile. “Don’t even get me started on all of the stories I walk away with after a bus ride!”
We are so thankful that Mays’s work will once again grace the Art for AIDS live auction, which begins at 7:00 pm on October 9. To view all of her sculpture, go to kristinemays.com.