Thinkspace Projects (4217 W. Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90016) presents Kayla Mahaffey “Remember the Time,” a solo show highlighting her latest paintings. Mahaffey examines the language of nostalgia in this collection of large-scale new works on canvas on view from September 18 through October 9.
“Summer days, children playing, neighborly love, peace…quiet,” these thoughts inspired Kayla Mahaffey in creating the series.
“There were times where everyone seemed to look out for one another, and everything seemed more tranquil, or was it really,” Mahaffey asks in her artist’s statement regarding the show. “Chaos and hate never ceased to exist, and past generations have showed us this time and time again.”
Nostalgia creates a shroud of positivity, coating childhood memories and glossing over the rougher moments. Although past chaos and hate have always been present, there is a shared recollection of peaceful times. Mahaffey examines this cyclical phenomenon in “Remember the Time,” acknowledging that though we are in the midst of a difficult time, heavily influenced by generations before, there is value in the sugar-coated nostalgia as well.
“There have been numerous occasions where we omit the truths of our past to only be met with the disappointments of the future,” Kayla Mahaffey said. “A never-ending cycle that has influenced our current era for the best and the worst. Even though we’re currently going through a very troubling era, let’s take a moment to remember those times where we felt the most safe or where we felt the happiest. Many of us wish to go back to that life, but not to change anything, but to feel a few cherished things, once again.”
Mahaffey herself finds comfort in the fond memories of her childhood, creating a signature style heavily influenced by the very cartoons that filled those carefree childhood moments. Mahaffey is known for her hyper realistic renderings accented with elements of pop surrealism and animation. Her colorful works depicting Black children in the midst of cartoon-like capers and contemplations speak of youth, fantasy, and creativity. She channels the fresh eyes of a child, beautifully rendering scenes that transport the viewer to that very period of life.
While the word cartoon has certain childish connotations, Mahaffey has highlighted the true importance of this lighthearted entertainment. She acknowledges that cartoons are often the first-time children are exposed to the concept of morality, with a clear right and wrong, giving simple characters and stories a layered and complex second life. Mahaffey, a self-proclaimed nerd, is able to elevate these elements within her work, reminding us that cartoons were once an important escape during their early years, and there’s nothing to say they cannot be again. Her work inspires viewers to return to that state of mind, providing a necessary escape when the surrounding world has become increasingly difficult.
About the artist
Kayla Mahaffey (aka Kayla May) is a contemporary artist specializing in Illustration and Fine Arts. Her style being a mixture of pop art and Afro-surrealism makes for a bright and colorful experience that packs a punch as well as sends an important message with each piece. Born on the Chicago South Side, she has a strong sense of resilience and community that is displayed in her artwork time and time again. She studied at the American Academy of Art in Downtown Chicago, taking some classes, before leaving in 2017 to pursue art full-time.
Thinkspace was founded in 2005; now in LA’s thriving West Adams District, the gallery has garnered an international reputation as one of the most active and productive exponents of the New Contemporary Art Movement. Maintaining its founding commitment to the promotion and support of its artists, Thinkspace has steadily expanded its roster and diversified its projects, creating collaborative and institutional opportunities all over the world. Founded in the spirit of forging recognition for young, emerging, and lesser-known talents, the gallery is now home to artists from all over the world, ranging from the emerging, mid-career, and established.Black artistFemale artistKayla Mahaffey