Folk artist has Sunni disposition
Sometimes you have to look close, but in every painting Sunni Maya produces, there’s a simple white dove.
“When I’m painting I am back in an era when I feel people had time for the simple joys of life, and time for each other,” the 71-year-old woman said with a thick Texas draw.
Seated in her apartment, she works with a peaceful air, undauntingly.
It wasn’t until she was 60 that she learned to paint. She is self taught, almost as if directed by some unseen hand.
The paintings and embellished furniture will be placed on displace from Jan. 10 to Feb. 4 at the Western Nevada Community College Gallery in Carson City.
It was while she was taking care of a friend in Lake Tahoe that she started putting her beloved paintings on canvas.
She was inspired by the sights and sounds around her, painting to preserve the memories of her childhood.
She was born in 1928 in San Angelo, Texas, and later moved to San Antonio with her family. It was while living in Texas that she gained her appreciation for ethnic mixture and learned of the vibrant colors of the area.
She soon began painting on shadow boxes, pieces of wood and anything she could get her hands on.
Painting her memories in American primitive style, each image mixes a special time, place and the precious people in her life.
“Children were cherished, the flag was honored, there were no wars, and we never locked our doors at night,” she said.
Her practice and persistence paid off, as her art graces the walls of many Western homes.
“Bill Cosby has one of my pieces hanging in the set of his show,” she said.
Other actors who have purchased her work include Robert Stack and his wife, Rosemarie.
She said she desires to capture the wonderfully diverse ethnic mixture and vibrant colors from her childhood.
“I guess God has truly blessed me more than I suspected,” she said.
She said the small dove is just her way of thanking God for his help and asking for his blessing on each painting.