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Meet Kyllan Maney

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kyllan Maney.

Kyllan, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born in Cincinnati, but consider myself from Kentucky. I was raised in Scottsdale Arizona. In high school I fostered a passion for creating art starting with vocational school specializing in graphic design. This is where I discovered an interest in line drawing and illustration.

After high school, I interned at the National Museum of Natural Science at the Smithsonian Institution in the Exhibits department where I worked very closely with scientific illustrations of plants. After my internship, I attended Arizona State University where I received a Bachelors of Fine Art with a specialization in Painting. In college, I developed large scale biomorphic surrealist paintings and drawings of plants.

After college, I continued my work in painting and drawing. I first exhibited my work at Paulina Miller Gallery in downtown Phoenix for several years.  I currently show my work at Art One Gallery, The Store at Mesa Arts Center and Practical Art in the past have shown my work as a solo artist and participated in  many groups exhibitions. I have always been interested in painting large scale and for a long time dreamed of painting murals.

I received my first mural commission as a collaborative project with Lauren Lee at Mesa Urban Garden. Since then, I have fallen in love with painting patterns in bright colors across the valley. Two of my favorite downtown Phoenix projects are at MonOrchid and a series of murals on 3rd Street and Adams. My murals are intended to be interactive. I want people to feel the color and the vibration from the pattern. My intention for these murals to brightens someone’s day through tge interaction of color and light energy.

Along with my professional artist career, I am an instructor and Chair of the Visual Arts Department at New School for the Arts and Academics.  I love teaching, it keeps me grounded. Teaching a constant learning experience from my students and their approach of seeing and creating art. Teaching also allows me to experiment and play with the idea of creating community collaborative build projects. These collaborative projects started many years ago with a class creating a larger piece of art together. A few years later, I found myself working on these types of projects at Mesa Arts Center for various events.

Working with Mesa Arts Center I found they were supportive of my ideas, and this allowed me the space to grow as a community artist. Now I create projects for hundreds of people to be apart of at various art venues and art events across the valley. My latest two projects was a glow in the dark chalk mural at Desert Botanical Garden and painting huge dumpsters with the community at Canal Convergence sponsored by Scottsdale Public Art.

Has it been a smooth road?
I would not say my path was necessarily a smooth one. When I graduated from college, I did not feel I had much of an opportunity to exhibit my work. I still worked in my studio during this time. It was not until a friend introduced me to someone who was running Paulina Miller Gallery. Within a month I was exhibiting my work there. I have been fortunate to have galleries like Paulina Miller, Art One, GreenHAUS and (9) The Gallery to exhibit my work.

As for painting murals. I wanted to paint murals for years, I had a hard time finding anyone who wanted my work on my walls. It was not until Mesa Arts Center partnered up with Mesa Urban Garden where I designed and painted my first mural. This experience allowed me to build my work to what it is today.

I still do feel I face obstacles. I hear people make comments that because I teach I am not really an artist. I do teach, part-time. I work as an artist full-time. Most days when I am working on projects and teaching, I work 12 to 15 hour days. I love to work, so most of the time it does not feel like work.

I also have encountered obstacles where people can not believe I am the artist that has created my work. I am not sure why this is, Most times I feel it has to do with my appearance, I am a bit self-conscience about it, In some ways, I feel my appearance does not fit the bill of what people imagine what an artist should look like.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I consider myself as a Creative Placemaking Artist. I feel this is an umbrella definition for all the different things I do. Creative placemaking is the act to gather people in spaces to help bring more attention and vitality to space and a community. I like the idea of Creative Placemaking because it puts the artist in the center of our society.

With that said, I love murals. I love color and pattern, and I feel that there needs to be more color in this city. I have dreams of creating larger spaces combining ground and building spaces to create colorful optical patterns for people to enjoy and to use as landmarks across the city.

I also love the idea of working with the community in creating art. Not everyone wants to sit down and make a grand masterpiece, but a lot of people love to be apart of a piece of art that makes a masterpiece in the end.

Any predictions for the industry over the next few years?
Art is a very thing to predict. If our economy stays strong, I believe there will be more opportunities for artists. I think I answered this a bit, I would like to create art for larger spaces, and I am currently researching different ways to approach this process.

I do believe that Phoenix does have the landmark as a creative city with many qualified artists. I look forward to seeing how we grow as a community. Along with this, I would like to travel and paint murals and do community projects in different states and countries.

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Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Erin

    January 30, 2019 at 3:38 am

    Great article-love this artist!!!

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