A B O U T
Maasai Rees-Tabari was born and raised in New York City; on Manhattan's lower east side. At ten, she attended her first art class at NY Art Students League. Maasai attended private school in her formal years, then in 10th grade she switched to Brooklyn Technical H.S., magnate public school to attend the engineering program for Interior Design, graduating in 1983.
For college, Maasai attended the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City; and majored in painting and minored in sculpture (focusing on created sculptural furniture). While at SVA, she traveled and lived in Mexico to paint landscapes, her first love.
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 recent large studio space at the Beacon Arts Building, in Los Angeles, amplified her imagination, created more depth and artistic quality to her work, allowing her to work on a larger scale, 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 she began working digitally (a 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 tablet drawing software programs.
Maasai's current focus and new project is to create activist art. She is passionate about disseminating accurate mental illness, treatment education and information to the public, promoting awareness and sensitivity, and to 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