We had the good fortune of connecting with Amy Maeven Pace and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amy Maeven, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Growing up I knew I wanted to be an artist and a writer, but I had the type of family that didn’t look at the arts as a viable career option and they pushed me towards other pursuits. Throughout my teens and twenties, I struggled with finding a path forward that felt authentic and wasted a lot of time and money trying to convince myself to get degrees in history and music so I could become a professor. My failure as a student made me feel like a failure in life, so I re-branded myself a gypsy, an anarchist, a hundred other things trying to create a context that distracted everyone from the fact that I had not managed to finish college and become a real adult.
During this time, I tried a lot of jobs on for size, everything from being a paralegal to a bartender, and eventually ended up working as a social worker at a non-profit serving the adult IDD community. This was the first place that I had ever been around people who were working in the field they felt called to. My time there was always rewarding, but no matter how committed I was to the individuals on my caseload, I knew the passion my co-workers felt was missing in me. Around this time, I met the person who would become my partner in love, life and art. The more we spent time creating together, the more it helped me to shed the lingering shame that obligated me to ‘traditional’ work and allowed me to see that throwing myself into the thing I had wanted to become all along was my only way forward.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My partner, Johnny, and I have shared a complimentary, parallel path in the ways that we translate our life experiences into tangible pieces of art. Everything we create is either autobiographical or heavily influenced by some aspect of looking at our respective heritage, spiritual beliefs and an understanding that how our past has created who we are – both on a personal as well as a societal level.
We established Savage Sacrament to encompass everything we want to do with our creative impulses. We offer our original artwork, but didn’t want to limit ourselves to that realm. From the start, we knew we wanted to allow space for every fancy and whim that struck us to come to life. So, in addition to our visual art we offer one of a kind pieces of up-cycled clothes, shoes and accessories.
Johnny and I bonded immediately over the way we crafted our personal images and knew that we wanted to bring wearable art into the world we knew we were creating. Although we are both introverts and ‘quiet types’, we have both always had an out loud personal presence and rarely go unnoticed with our curated, customized clothes. I have always believed that the way you put yourself together visually is a kind of spell, you are presenting an invitation to people to engage with you in a certain way. In essence, according to my personal philosophy anyway, you are telling people a story with your look that subliminally connects them with a feeling. Johnny and I wanted to bring this deliberate act of using our clothes to alter reality to others.
As visual artists, we use found objects, salvaged items and a multitude of different surfaces when we create a piece. We bring that same approach to the clothes we make. Starting with vintage or thrifted items as a base, we build a story into each piece with components that evoke the power we want everyone to embrace in themselves.
Our current line of reborn clothes, ‘GHOST/heretic’, and our most recent art show, ‘Los Lugares Segrados’, ask you to identify the moments when others have tried to make you feel like an outsider. We want you to take the words people have used to try and contain your potential and purpose in order to justify remaining small out of fear and turn them into a mantra of empowerment. We have all at one time (or many) in our life been offered the opportunity to surrender to the external narrative and use that to define ourselves or to rise far beyond the limits placed on us by those afraid that our success will diminish their own.
Every avenue we pursue creatively has been a road through trauma, disappointment and false starts in the relentless, unfailingly hopeful belief that we will arrive at our intended destination if we manage not to falter. This path to wholeness has led us both to understand that healing has nothing to do with erasing the things that have caused pain. Instead, we would like to propose the suggestion that perhaps the most holistic form of becoming whole lies not in closing the wounds so they can no longer be seen, but in enveloping them into the fabric of ourselves so they become part of what gives us strength and resilience. It’s easy to be misled into chasing the ideals given to us by people who don’t know or care who we truly are. It’s such a common trap that people don’t see it as a danger, but as a destination. I want nothing more than to normalize authenticity and have someone see that if you trust the universe enough to keep walking through your fear towards your actual purpose and self, what lies beyond it is freedom.
For us, the form this journey has taken is art in all its facets and potentialities.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Johnny Mattei, my aforementioned partner in all things life and the co-founder of Savage Sacrament, could never truly understand how pivotal his presence in my life has been. He engaged with me from the start as the person I actually am, completely oblivious to the constructs I had built up to define myself in socially recognizable ways and saw that my calling was to create. Johnny has never acted like becoming a person who pursued art as a full-time, professional, money-making pursuit was a ‘some day’ idea. He’s always made me feel that it’s nothing more than who I was meant to be and what I’m meant to do. There have been plenty of people who encouraged me in the past, but Johnny is a phenomenally talented artist that I admire and respect and there’s something about having a person who has succeeded in an area of life where you are afraid to even venture into saying that they believe in you that really makes your dreams feel attainable.
Johnny becoming part of my life is the most important thing I could point to as a defining moment when everything that came after was fundamentally different. Because of his impact and influence, I tell people without hesitation or apologetic tones that I’m an artist.
Johnny Mattei and Alejandro Cerdena