We had the good fortune of connecting with Maynard Mann and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Maynard, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Why? I never felt so privileged as to make that choice as to why. I have always felt deficient in the qualities that make a human a great fit for conventional blue or white-collar labor. I came from an incredibly difficult upbringing, and though I have come a long way, missing out on those crucial developmental years learning how the rest of the world works and what is expected of the role of “person” has left me feeling somewhat terminally othered by society. I’m a pretty blatant cliche, a traumatized child turned eccentric artist. No, for me it wasn’t a choice. The same eccentricities that have made it difficult for me to find and hold onto conventional jobs, my gender expression, aesthetics, obsessive nature, and a generally loud personality are in my opinion what has allowed me to excel in my artistic endeavors. Jewelry more so than any other. I like to think that my work taps into and ignites something in people who share those same quarks. That for them it can be something uniquely special, and that given the nature of the craft, that something could last them a lifetime, maybe even longer.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My drunker self said it best when they said “I like to make weird sad things for weird sad people.” as they explained more at, than to, another bar patron who asked about the jewelry I was wearing. In all seriousness though for myself as a jeweler. When designing jewelry and adornments my work is about turning one’s self inside out and doing so in a way that makes one beautiful even when showing off the unpleasant and unsightly aspects of ourselves and our experiences. And I am quite literal and direct with this core mission, my work has often been described as morbid, disgusting, unnerving, obtuse, and unsettling, but also Beautiful and never ugly. And it is precisely that balance of Morbid beauty that I aim to strike in my work. The primary themes of my work include dysphoria, being a prisoner of one’s own body, or life experiences, the lack of agency in the inherent trauma of birth and death. Childhood wounds both physical and mental, and the unfathomable sadness that comes from the alienation from the self that accompanies these themes and experiences.
Aesthetically, literally, and metaphorically I use imagery of the body to express these themes as the body is the vessel by which we experience all of the world’s ugliness but also its beauty. I want to tap into that deep primal sense of unease that comes with seeing the human body out of context warped and twisted as a simulacrum of the feelings we feel as the world warps and twists us throughout life. In this way I want my work to become powerful mementos of optimistic nihilism, reminders that even though the world is a cruel, heinous place seemingly
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Personally, my advice is to stay as far away from Savannah Ga as humanly possible less you want to be verbally harassed by one of the hundreds of drunk cadets who pour into the city from the Paris Island military base every weekend, pay 11$ for a watered-down beer and to cap it all off, get hit by a van going 45mph on a 25mph road being driven by one of the endless bounties of elderly white retirees who have elected to make Savannah their casket and who spend their days making miserable the lives of the city’s underappreciated, overworked, and understaffed service workers who are single handled responsibly for every positive quality this cobblestone, cultural cesspit manages to hold onto.
That said if you insist or are forced by some malevolent entity to spend some time here, I’m looking right at you S.C.A.D. you might as well make the best of it. If your going downtown aim to do it on a Thursday, not a Friday. Paris Island bros. Don’t show up till Friday and S.C.A.D. the local art school doesn’t have Friday classes making Thursday effectively the start of the weekend meaning the culture downtown on a Thursday night is decidedly more queer, artsy, and welcoming. Shout out to Whitakers and Abes as my two favorite places to grab a drink and play pool or darts, and Elrocko Lounge as my favorite place to go out dancing.
Also outside of downtown for better or worse Starlandia district has basically been completely gentrified at this point. Having Wormhole and Twotides as excellent venues for music and Foxyloxy cafe who I desperately want to tell you is bad on account of it being where I work my day job but must begrudgingly tell you that it easily has the best coffee in town.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to The Greenwood School in the snowy hills of Putney Vermont though the school has radically transformed in the decade since my time attending, my stay in the late 2010s truly saved my life and made me who I am today. There is a reason I tell people I’m from Vermont when they ask despite me only ever living there two years while in attendance at Greenwood. Very few schools could take in an extremely traumatized and barely literate 13-year-old and not only allow them to survive but flourish. I owe the life I have today wholeheartedly to that institution.
Additionally, I’d like to give a shoutout to my classmates in my jewelry studio 1 class at Savanna college of art and design, whose comradery gave me the courage to radically change the course of my degree into studying jewelry despite being near graduation in a different concentration.