Mai’s journey began in 1986 when she first traveled to the United States. New York’s street culture and creative landscape became the ideal backdrop for the exploration of a fierce artistic mind, already influenced by a diverse range of cultures ad with a passion for Afro-American music.
She began documenting not only the street cultures, but also the subcultures of the country as a whole, and has since immortalised thousands of its people, unveiling their will to belong and identify as part of a community.
The 5 unseen images’ American Flavor’ document the Puerto Rican community of the United States, which today includes more than five million people.
The culture of African-Americans is very strong, and has inspired the world for decades, particularly when global media gave new them ways to relay their voices. These are people who learn from the past, and find the beauty in even the most oppressed situation.
Nina Simone is a prime example for me. Her beauty, her intelligence, the pride, the talent, and the pain;you can see the battles she’s endured to survive and maintain her mental health in a very disturbing time and place. She had it all, but for me it’s the pain that always seeps through strongest. In terms of writers, James Baldwin was remarkable. He not only had to survive as a black man, but as a black, gay man. I’d recommend everyone read his books. Today, I’m very inspired by Saul Williams, a writer, activist, and musician. His art gives you access to his consciousness, and reveals the battles of a whole new generation. My work is a way of paying tribute to these great artists, and the beauty of African-American life. If you don’t know enough about the cause and the culture, I’d say you’re missing out.