Maria Chavez

Born in Lima, Peru, Maria Chavez is an an abstract turntablist, sound artist, and DJ. Accidents, coincidence, and failures are themes that unite her sound sculptures, installations, and other works with her solo turntable performance practice. She visited Richmond for a ten-day artist residency at the University of Richmond and to kick off Sound Arts Richmond, a citywide sound arts festival that continues through August of this year. I spoke with Maria as she was installing Topography of Sound: Peaks and Valleys Series, a solo exhibition of new paintings and illustrations based on microscopic images of vinyl and needle. Chavez chose to show this work as two-dimensional rather than as a sound installation because, in the sound arts world and in the art markets, the expectation is that sound art can only be emitted sound from a speaker or from a person. And, as you will hear, Chavez is not a person who likes to be boxed in by external expectations. 

If I’m comfortable, then I’m too much involved in the ego of being good. I like to challenge that, morally and sonically. Good and bad are social constructs. When I’m performing a sound piece and it’s a little too easy and everyone thinks it’s good, then I got lazy. . . . I’m just trying to do a good job for praise. And those are two separate approaches artistically. I like to think that I’m not one that’s trying to make “good” art for people to like, but to make art to continue to challenge myself and my creativity. . . . If I start to get too comfortable, I might forget to be present, and if I forget to be present, then where am I within society? What is my role? Am I really trying to be part of a canon of work where we are moving forward and challenging ourselves and each other?
— Maria Chavez

Paige hosts the LookSEE podcast and is a freelance audio producer, an art lover, and a lifelong Richmonder. Her favorite place to be is in a museum. A close second is a bookstore.