Ikouii Feature | Elizabeth Mayton

With her signature continuous black lines, Elizabeth Mayton is introducing herself as a member of Atlanta’s growing arts community. Elizabeth Mayton is an emerging artist, working primarily in acrylics. She currently lives in Atlanta, GA. She has been painting and creating art since she can remember. Elizabeth began publicly showing her art recently in Atlanta, GA. Her work exhibits her love of flowers, color, and continuous lines. She also touches on her experiences with having a hearing loss and navigating both hearing and deaf worlds. Elizabeth is a graduate of Emory University and Teachers College of Columbia University where she holds an MA in Deaf Education and Early Childhood Education. Tell us about YOU? My name is Elizabeth Mayton. I am from Atlanta, Georgia, born in 1980 at Piedmont Hospital. I am partially deaf (profoundly deaf in my left ear, some hearing in my right ear). I have always worn hearing aids and depended on lipreading. I love music, all kinds, the louder the better! Going to concerts is one of my favorite things to do. Nature relaxes me. I am often outside, gardening and taking long walks. Currently, I am an itinerant teacher of deaf and hard of hearing children attending public schools (pre-K to 12th grade). I provide support to teachers and students in several different ways; fix hearing technology, teach how to use them in the classroom, provide accommodations, teach basic signs, etc.). When I get the time, I paint and draw. Although I have been creating art since I can remember, I recently began showing my work publicly. In the past, I tend to hoard all of my work and only show them to friends and family members. I have always been an introvert. Painting allows me to be “loud” and express my feelings visually. I am happy that I’m finally putting myself out there; becoming a member of the growing art community in Atlanta. Who are your creative influences and why? There are too many to name, but here are a few of my biggest creative influences: Ashley Longshore – Her art is colorful and fun. I admire her work ethic. She is one of the most prolific artists out there! Her passion and insane energy inspires me. Andy Warhol – I love, love, love his use of color, especially in his screen prints. When I need some ideas or inspiration, I look at his work. Keith Haring – The simplicity and use of lines in Haring’s work is incredible. I admire his ability to be an activist through his art, which is hard to do successfully. He left this world too soon. Mark Rothko – He used layers and layers of colors in his paintings instead of mixing them together. As result, they are not only beautiful to look at, they are very emotional. Each piece I have had the pleasure to look at in a museum or gallery brought out a strong emotional reaction. It’s amazing. I see his influence when I use layers and layers of colors in my paintings – often painting over an image then repainting some details. I like the richness it gives the piece. What prompted you to venture into art? I have always been drawing since I was two, according to my parents. One of my first drawings was probably of our pet cat. These drawings look like amoebas with long whiskers. Drawing was just something I did. It came naturally to me. If I have to explain what prompted me into creating drawings, I think it was my way of understanding the world. I could not really express myself verbally. I did not really start talking until I got my first hearing aids when I was three. Even when I started talking, it was not very clear and required years of speech therapy and practice. Therefore, drawing was a way for me to express myself without having to talk about it. My mother recently told me about a time we visited an old cemetery. I was probably four years old at the time. She said that since visiting the cemetery, I obsessively drew tombstones. I even drew a picture of a cat lying near a tombstone. She thinks it was a drawing of one of our pet cats that recently died. This may be a bit disturbing to some, a four year old drawing tombstones and dead cats, but I believe this was my way of trying to understand death and the concept of cemeteries. I was expressing my understanding of it without having to use any words. If you could describe your creative style in one word, what would it be and why? My creative style is always changing. At this time, I would describe my creative style as colorful. I use lots of bright colors with looping black lines. I’ve always been attracted to the loud and colorful. I think this has a lot to do with my hearing loss. Most of my friends are loud and colorful. It is easier for me to understand and follow people who are expressive or use clear and loud enough speech. Of course this ideally would be in a one on one situation. Listening to groups of people talking or even signing gives me anxiety and makes me want to shut down and take a nap. What do you have as a creative that makes you stand out among the rest? I think my use of continuous black lines in my drawings and paintings help me stand out. I also think my personal experiences with being partially deaf makes my work interesting. I recently started sharing these experiences in my art, which has been a lot of fun. What is your favorite part of creating? Doing the final details, the finishing touches. It is relaxing and this is when I really get into that zone where nothing around me matters. It’s almost as if I am meditating. What moment/collection/or project as a creative stands out or you are most proud of? Why? I am most proud of being a part of a group art show showcasing various deaf and hard of hearing artists at The Mammal Gallery. This was the beginning of me finally putting my art out there in public. I was so honored to be a part of it! It brought me back into the signing Deaf/ASL community. I reconnected with old friends and met new people. I really enjoyed the experience. The best part was learning from the other artists. I love the support and enthusiasm of my artist friends. It gives me energy to produce more work and to leave the house more often to visit art events, galleries, and studios of talented artists. What do you think of today’s creative trends? I like the greenery or nature look used by some designers. It is freeing and more pleasing to the eye. I love nature, so of course it would appeal to me. References to the 80’s and 90’s amuse me. Sorry, but I am not a fan of ‘pumpkin spice.’ Emojis used to annoy me, but I find myself using them more and more when writing. 🙂 Tell us about your next or current project – What can your fans/followers expect from you next? I am working on incorporating more of my personal experiences with being partially deaf or hard of hearing. Expect more hearing related themes, self portraits, and use of text in my work. I am also experimenting with adding more metallics and incorporating screen prints. Where can fans/followers find more info? Follow me on Instagram: @elizabethmaytonart What is your “mantra” as a creative? Get to work and see what happens. Images Courtesy of Artist, Elizabeth Mayton