By Eleanor Pratt
Senior Maggia Malia has been creating art for her entire life. From a young age she was teaching herself to draw and paint using tutorials from the internet. One of her earliest memories is going to Barnes & Noble with her grandparents and getting a Harry Potter sketchbook to learn from. From this point on, art became a central part of her life.
Malia’s interest in different mediums has allowed her to experiment and find which art style works best for her at any given moment. Painting is more of an emotional, looser experience for her, while drawing with pen and ink makes her slow down and concentrate on each detail. For Malia, art, in whatever medium she works in, is about self-expression and connecting with both herself and those who view her creations.
The piece featured in this article is an example of that self-expression. It depicts her tense relationship with her identity as a sapphic woman and the struggle to find a label that truly felt right. The unicorn is representative of how often feminine LGBT women were called unicorns and the girl ripping off the horn shows Malia’s shame in not feeling like she deserves to call herself a lesbian. The artwork is ripe with symbolism, with the moon, half-moon on the girl’s forehead, and flowers all connecting to her identity.
Malia has loved her experience with her professors, fellow students, and staff at SMCM however, it has been frustrating recently due to administration’s program cuts last semester. As an art history minor, Malia was incredibly saddened to hear that the program was being destroyed, as she felt having that historical foundation and connection made her own art better.
For future students, she warned that cutting this program would be a huge detriment to their education and future as artists. Malia found it to be “…very disappointing and very silly,” especially since she has it on good authority from friends that give tours of the school that students will often come for a tour of campus and specifically ask about the art history program.
Because of this frustration with the school, Malia is planning on graduating early this semester because she does not feel the school deserves any more of her money after the cuts. She decided to come to SMCM for the full liberal arts experience, in the hope that learning about other subjects and disciplines would make her art even better. She is disappointed that the college is not living up to its full potential, expressing: “The school should really embrace what it is. A small liberal arts college with a beautiful campus; not a tiny University of Maryland.”
After graduation, Malia hopes to go into children’s book illustration. Her capstone project is creating a children’s book, which she hopes to publish as soon as she can. She loves the accessibility of art in children’s stories, with one of her inspirations being the beloved author Beatrix Potter.
While Malia’s time at SMCM was tinged with frustration and sadness due to the program cuts, she still loved her classes and classmates and really admired how dedicated her professors were. She will continue to create art as she has done for her entire life, no matter the obstacles life throws at her.