Adorning countless walls across the globe, Maya Hayuk’s grand, geometric and explosively colorful murals stand in stark contrast to their, often, mundane city surroundings.
These large-scale, eye-catching murals make up the most immediately recognizable core of the Baltimore-born artist.
But for Hayuk, the mural is far more than a simple urban adornment. In interview she has exclaimed how “murals can revitalize a neighborhood and the psyche of a community”.
This draws on the fact that such public artworks interact with viewers on both an artistic and everyday basis, providing a rich, colorful backdrop for everyday moments—whether that be a commute or running a business nearby.
Pysanka, Mandalas, and the Hubble Telescope
After receiving a BFA in 1991 from Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Hayuk continued her educational journey studying at the University of Odessa in Ukraine, and Maine’s Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.
During her education, she became inspired by pysanka, decorated easter eggs from Ukraine, Mandalas, chandeliers, holograms, Rorschach tests and the abstract views from the Hubble Telescope.
Combining these influences, her style of design continued to develop throughout the 2000s, before solidifying into the imminently recognizable use of geometric lines and colors which we see as her signature today.
This signature style is held up by three key, recurring motifs; symmetrical compositions, intricate patterns, and vibrant colors.
By the 2010s, Hayuk had established herself as an artist of international note. A number of solo exhibitions and commissions quickly followed—at venues including UCLA’s Hammer Museum (2013), Toronto’s Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (2013) and the Netherlands’ Bonnefanten Museum (2012).
The striking nature of her artworks has also been employed by numerous other artists, who have commissioned her to create album covers, videos, stage sets, photographs and posters.
However, Hayuk has run into numerous legal issues trying to defend her signature style after similar images appeared on Starbucks marketing despite declining to work with the company itself.
Unfortunately for Hayuk, the proceeding court case concluded with the ruling that Hayuk could not claim exclusive rights to her style, given its geometric shapes, lines and colors were not exclusive to her work. Such legal grey-areas obviously pose a threat to Hayuk’s artworks, especially given that they are most often found on mass-public display.
Through their bold, well-defined shapes, vibrant and contrasting colors and mesmerizing aura, Maya Hayuk’s works are undoubtedly a feast for the eyes. However, by stripping her artworks down to such fundamental components, such a style leaves her works somewhat exposed in a grey area of stylistic copyright.