Maye Torres is back in Taos from a trip to Ethiopia where she was invited to participate in a program for the Arts funded by The State Department.
She was the guest of the U.S. Ambassador in Addis Ababa during her stay and spent her time making art, taking digital photographs of everything and everyone, as well as being involved in a children’s workshop, when not meeting many inspiring people or visiting places steeped in history and tradition.
Ethiopia impacted her profoundly, she says the high, spiritual energy of the people and the place, affected her deeply.
Born in Taos, raised here and in Latin America, Maye went to Humboldt College, studying Fine Art before returning to Northern New Mexico and her family. Her mother, Cecilia Torres, owned the New Directions Gallery on the Plaza for many years, which is where I first saw Maye’s work in the early 90’s, hanging alongside Larry Bell’s.
She apprenticed with Bell for a while and also with the late Ted Egri, both of whom were early supporters of her unique vision and ability.
Her intellect and considerable talent is in part, clearly inherited from a long line of cultivated and gifted thinkers, leading directly to Taos’ famed Padre Martinez. Her uncle, Vicente Martinez, Cecilia’s brother, was for many years the curator of the Millicent Rogers Museum and steward of the Padre Martinez House on the lane of the same name.
With her deep Taos roots – her family goes back 13 generations – Maye carries in her bones the confluence of cultures, the blood memory of Manifest Destiny, the singular experience of a Latin woman in Latin America, with her far-flung bloodlines sending out tributaries like rivers connecting cultures and mythology.
All of this is eloquently expressed in her astounding work; the drawings and sculpture she has become known for, along with her absolutely modern reality and sensibility.
Maye’s personal story is a deep and profound journey in itself. She’s experienced all the depths, the highs and lows, life brings.
After the loss of her husband, fellow artist Rory Wagner, her sons grown, with her nest empty, she left Taos for awhile. Being featured in the documentary (Who Does She Think She Is?) had opened many doors for her. She was for a time artist-in-residence at 15 Rose, the historic hostel in Venice Beach, California, joining a long list of guest – artists that includes Charlie Chaplin and Jim Morrison of The Doors.
This winter she’s been hibernating at her home in Carson, messing around on her mobile device making rearrangements of the photographs she took in Ethiopia. She’s graciously shared a few here. She’s working on a few commissions and some large-scale drawings, taking it slow, enjoying the space as she prepares for an inevitably busy spring.
Maye’s accomplishments are too many for this page. Her work is constantly evolving. Please visit her site below for more information on her and her art.
Photograph of Maye Torres from the back cover of Taos Portraits by Paul O’Connor