A B O U T
Maasai Rees-Tabari was born and grew up in New York City; she mostly lived on Manhattan's lower east side, for over 20 years in a community called Stuyvesant Town – Peter Cooper Village. In 1984, Maasai attended the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York. At SVA Maasai majored in painting and minored in sculpture (focusing on sculptural furniture).
Her first solo show, titled, ‘Safe In Heaven Dead’ (1992) was at a private home in Harlem. In 2001, Maasai moved to Los Angeles.
The illustrated tone, bright colors and imagery she stylistically uses to tell the story of human vulnerability, and the beauty of painful emotions are a reflection of her authentic experience of life.
Maasai's studio space at the Beacon Arts Building, in Los Angeles, amplified her imagination, and created more depth and artistic quality to her work, because it was her first large dedicated space to experiment with new mediums, share ideas and interact with fellow studio artists.
In 2012, Maasai was nominated to apply for the prestigious USA Artist $50,000 art fellowship grant award.
In 2014 began using new medium and now much of her current work is almost exclusively created digitally - using ArtRage, Sketchbook Pro, Procreate and other iPad tablet and computer touch drawing software programs.
Maasai's current focus and project is creating public activist art. She is passionate about disseminating accurate mental illness information, promoting awareness and sensitivity, treatment education and activate positive state and government policy changes.
A few artists that influenced Maasai's work in her early life include the following:
- Tom Feelings
- Jacob Lawrence
- Romare Bearden
- Elizabeth Catlette
- Constantine Brancusi
- Diego Rivera and Frida Khalo
- Pablo Picasso
- Vincent Van Gogh
- Alberto Giacometti and so many more