Enter Max Payne’s studio and your imagination will soar. Mythical characters, colorful scrolls, and exquisitely-detailed altered books inspire visitors to spin tales about her artwork. Max likes it that way. Although she creates her own narratives for pieces as they evolve, she prefers letting viewers respond with stories of their own.
Her work, “Crossing Over,” with its Viking ship high in the air, may jumpstart imaginings of figures carried off to an unknown world or we may delve into the background of “Vanitas,” the portrayal of an exquisite medieval queen that showcases the drama of corruption and beauty. Max says that all of her sculptures have their beginnings in her love of myth and legend. The “stories” behind the work is limited only by the interpretation of the viewer.
Could it be that her scrolls also draw us into an alternate universe? These “evocations of dreamscapes,” with intense colors and rich images, many of which are two-sided and cut out so that they cast shadows, are designed to move, flow and change; beautifully decorative in the way of medieval tapestries or oriental scrolls.
Max’s altered books are created from discarded books, now rescued and transformed. They find new life as sculptural books, endowed with powerfully evocative visual and kinesthetic components. As a part of their rebirth, they are freshened with new stories. “The Threads of Their Lives” features pictures and symbolic memorabilia of the lives of Max’s own mother and that of her mother’s twin. Each page is three-dimensional and highly ornamented. Some pages are glued together with spaces cut out to accommodate symbolic objects, such as a spool of thread that interacts with additional materials to create a vine that drifts out and around the other pages. The threads unravel when the story explores the death of the twin. Max’s books are golden treasure-boxes; each page offers a richly visual and tactile experience.
Max’s work is nothing if not fascinatingly complex. Textures, colors, and various materials form multiple layers, building depth and interest. Her studio houses one set of shelves that is rich in natural and colorful resources – branches, threads, beads, paper, buttons, seeds – so that the shelves themselves appear an intricate installation. In fact, the entire room is alive with its collections of natural and found materials and finished work displayed in thought-provoking—and yes, artistic—ways.
orbis photographypatrick leeportraitMaxEmerson Umbrella Center for Arts