Maya James

Maya James is an artist, writer, creator and activist based in the Kalamazoo, Michigan area. Her works center around feminism, anti-racism, socialism and her experience as a cross-cultural black American from a racially hostile town in Northern Michigan. As a young freelance journalist, James’ works have been featured in the New York Times Race/Related, USA Today College, and YR Media. As an artist, James’ works have been exhibited during Artprize 2018 at the Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives (which won best juried venue), the Dennos Museum, the Black Arts and Cultural Center and one the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo.

Maya was the first black female recipient of the National Arab American Museum City Hall Art Space Residency in 2019, and she has been a speaker at numerous events on the importance of black liberation in arts and media. She is author and illustrator of Maamoul Press’s graphic novel “LUKUMI”, a story of the importance of black female solidarity and friendship and Afro-Atlantic faith. In her free time,

Maya James organizes community events for black liberation, like the Juneteenth Celebration with the Vine Neighborhood Association she founded, and several marches for George Floyd and ABOLISH ICE. She considers herself a soldier for abolition, anti-racism, feminism and freedom unapologetically and at the same time.

Maya is the muralist behind “Faces”, a depiction of 94 faces of police violence and mob brutality permanently installed on the side of J-Bird Vintage in the vine neighborhood of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her work has been featured in numerous articles in the southwest Michigan area and she has shown at many Art Hops, galleries and local businesses in her area. Maya is co-chair of the Vine Neighborhood Association board of directors and an influential mark on her new home of Kalamazoo, Michigan where her art has a new permanent home.