MAHA JUMAIE TAITANO: Crafting Ethnic Goth in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, CA– Maha Jumaie Taitano, the California-based artist behind the eponymous jewelry label, was born in Baghdad, just before the rise of the Iraq-Iran war. With her parents, she fled to Beirut, Lebanon, only to be forced to flee again due to the 1982 Lebanon War. All this conflict may explain why her family ended up in the laid-back, idyllic-island of Alameda, which is famous for its Victorian Bay Area homes and date-palm-studded parks.With her two children, Maha now lives in Santa Cruz, where she is a proponent of the goth culture and music scene and where she practises her sculpture and jewelry making.Whether she is hammering away on a metal table, constructing an installation or shaping the delicate up cycled leather feathers of her collection her style is unmistakeably her own — something the UC Santa Cruz graduate calls “Ethnic Goth.”

“As a women of color, creating my own gothic or heavy metal accessories infusing ethnic inspired designs is my personal self expression of my complete self,” she told BACO, explaining that her mother is from Guam and her father is from Iraq.

Living in an ocean-side community alive with artists and musicians has also allowed her art to flourish.

“I am also connected to the two subcultures of Santa Cruz: the industrial goth scene and the heavy metal scene.  A lot of my aesthetic stems from these two music based subcultures and defines my identity and style a great deal,” Maha added.

When she isn’t working on her sculptures, she is sifting through up-cycled materials —   items that would normally be thrown away   — and pondering how to resurrect them within her jewelry collection.

“In my studies as well as my current artist practice I regularly think about my carbon footprint and how I impact the environment,” Maha added.

Her earrings are made from leather scrap samples purchased from an up-cycling non-profit organization called Fabmo, where she has often been fortunate in finding luxury materials from Italy.

Other embellishments crafted into her designs include chains and gems like pearls and emeralds that she uses to accent her feather earrings, among her best-sellers. Her cuffs are also made from up-cycled leather and the fabric that is sewn on is either up-cycle ethnic trim or re-cycled ethnic fabrics. Up-cycling also means that I can not always create the same exact piece, which is the artist side of me that likes this approach, I will never become bored with my ideas due to a dearth of material supplies. This gives me the freedom and ability to feel like I can always make something new.”



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>