Artwork: Maya Gelfman, MyDog Sighs

I was on my way to a Hanukkah party recently with some friends, walking through the tunnel by the Jerusalem Central Bus Station, when we noticed some strikingly beautiful street art. We then noticed the cans of spray paint & that unmistakable smell. We quickly realized that the artists were still there in the process of creating the work. Given that a good portion of my writing career has been dedicated to covering street art, my friends knew that we were going to be late for the Hanukkah party. I had the chance to talk to the three artists who collaborated on this particular project: Maya Gelfman (Israeli artist), Nitzan Mintz (Israeli street poet), & MyDog Sighs (British artist). Afterwards, I interviewed Maya. The result of which is below for your reading enjoyment. To see all the photos I took of the project in the tunnel, please click here. For more information on Maya Gelfman & her artwork, visit her website.

Maya Gelfman

What does it mean to be a street artist?

Actions in the streets are a significant choice for me & it is part of my artistic agenda. I exhibit works in museums & galleries, yet I always strive to do artwork in public spaces as well. Being out there among the every day life of the streets, enables me to reach a diverse audience directly & to facilitate a different kind of artistic dialogue. Viewers on the street come with no preconceptions & no expectations. Therefore, the reaction is immediate, natural, & unrestricted. Working in the streets always feels like returning to my core & “just doing it.” It is refreshing & fulfilling.

How did you get to where you are now as an artist?

I was an art major in high school & I got my BA from Shenkar Academy in 2006. I have always loved & created art. There are even pictures of me as a small child holding huge scissors, cutting the weekend papers to pieces & gluing them together.

Can you talk about your recent project in the tunnel?

This was a collaboration with two amazing artists & people: Nitzan Mintz & MyDog Sighs. It was a spontaneous creation that happened on the spot. We knew we had only one day before MyDog had to go back to England & that we have a lot of beautiful empty walls in that tunnel. We just wanted to bring out something beautiful & continuous that is related to each artist’s personal style, & also create something new out of the mix.

Why do you sign your real name, as opposed to a tag?

Using my real name was a very intuitive choice. It is a bit like answering, “why are you called Maya?” I am an artist and the work that I put out on the street is my art. So it feels only natural to sign my real name, as it is a part of me that is given to all that are willing to accept and absorb it.

How would you describe the street art scene in Israel?

The scene in Israel is very much like you would expect: relatively new, hungry, intense & all over the place (not just in Tel Aviv). I think that this  country is a very good place for creation to brew, but a hard place to be an artist.

Do you feel any feminist obligations as a female artist?

I feel that my choices as an artist & as a person; my perspective in general, are definitely related to me being a woman. But I try to reflect my  opinions & emotions as a human being. I think that it touches both male & female issues. If I had to give it a name, I would call it a humanist, not a feminist.

What’s next for you?

I currently exhibit works from the past few years in the Arts Department of the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality. The exhibition will run through 2013. I am working on my next solo exhibition that will open in September 2013 at the Zadik Gallery. I’m also aiming this year to expand my overseas exposure on the heels of several exhibitions I partook in lately (in Miami & Tokyo) & items in foreign magazines & blogs. I am an artist. This is who I am. I want to reach people, touch them, make them feel.