Maxim Tobias Schmidt (he/him/his) is a multidisciplinary artist working out of New Haven, Connecticut. As of May 2019, he graduated with his BA in Art Therapy from Albertus Magnus College. Schmidt currently serves as the gallery coordinator for the Ely Center of Contemporary Art in New Haven, and has had a longstanding relationship with ECOCA. As a young trans masculine artist, much of Schmidt’s work is informed by his growing up in queerness, in both overt and more non-obvious ways. His work also reflects his love of collecting and found objects. Schmidt yearns to attach deeper meaning to what is otherwise considered uninteresting or disposed.
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manifesto on meaning: a brief & better explanation of my work
I think that the holiest objects we encounter are the ones we take most for granted; the things that we discard are simply being discredited in their power. My love of collecting has largely been forged from this belief, that all objects - simple and complex, functional or “useless” - hold their own personal histories, and that each of those stories mean something. How we define something as “worth” anything is ultimately arbitrary, anyway. What is lost is its own perfect accident, and accidents are perhaps the most driving force of all - I see accidents as essential, just as significant as the sensible, ordered reality we all tumble after.
When I go through my source material (mainly an enormous archive of decades-old magazines gifted to me from my grandmother), there is an odd comfort in freely tearing out what I encounter. I think tears are magical, an organic way of letting a material act as it wants to with just a bit of guidance. Piecing together these swatches of torn images gives new life to old stories - these are the advertisements of our great-grandparents, and every dead stranger I’ll never meet. I aim to immerse myself in these foreign worlds because every subjective experience holds importance, and if I can reinvigorate those memories, then I am following through true to my missions.
I am also deeply fascinated by the concept of overwhelm, and wish to create artwork and imagery that is difficult to pick apart to compartmentalize. This need to stimulate confusion and curiosity is just as autobiographical as it is an interest; I recognize my own complexities, nuances, hypocrisies and complications, and challenge myself to bring those themes to a palpable, visceral point in my work.
Nothing in life is truly incidental or “simple,” and I have found that in realizing that, life has become much more worth living. It has revitalized me as an artist, but also as a person.