Deanna Maffeo was analyzing her own artwork in the Avant Garde, a hip art gallery in lower Manhattan, as visitors admired her oil paintings, pointing out the detail in her depiction of some retro video game cartridges.
Maffeo has a child-like laugh, and a creative mind so potent it has gotten her artwork shown at the Avant Garde.
The venue has had several promotional events held by notable companies, including Red bull. It isn’t known for hosting the artwork of up-and-coming artists, so Maffeo’s exhibit comes as a remarkable accomplishment.
While she is extremely proud of the accomplishment she admits she has a long a way to go in fulfilling a list of other goals she has. Maffeo has been working on the collection for a year. It originally began as a project she was working on for school. Stuck on a creative stump Maffeo began reminiscing about her childhood and the many things she enjoyed about it.
“They just kind of happened,” Maffeo said. “I didn’t plan them out; it just came [to me.]”
She proudly said she’s a 90s baby, alluding to the year she was born, 1994. Growing up as a 90s baby usually means one often played video games on a Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64 or Sega Genesis system, long before the advanced video games kids play with today.
Maffeo said looking at the painted cartridges has some sentimental value to her.
Looking at them brings back some very detailed memories of her humble upbringings. The games she painted were some of her favorites as a child. They include Paper Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, Zelda, and NBA JAM.
According to Maffeo, the paintings bring back a sense of nostalgia to video game lovers and art enthusiasts who grew up in the 90s and early 2000s and are familiar with the video game culture.
Maffeo has been lauded by a fellow artist, Hash, who she has been a fan of before ever having her work displayed. Hash is a well-known artist whose paintings often utilize words to develop actual images on canvas. He currently has a painting of similar form of Hip Hop legend Eminem at the same gallery.
This isn’t the first time her work has been displayed in an art gallery. She previously had an exhibit at Williamsburg’s Studio 301.
Born, raised and still residing in Sheepshead Bay, the 22-year-old artist is one of four children that include two older sisters and a younger brother.
Maffeo said that art has always played an important role in her life. For as long as she can remember she has always had a need to express herself artistically.
“I was always obsessed with art,” she said. “Like this is always what I wanted to do, I was always drawing. People were always giving me art supplies to play with, I never had a plan B this was always it.”
At 14 years old, the Sheepshead native was accepted into the nationally renowned Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, New York’s top high school for the arts. She recalled an advisor in the school’s faculty telling her she would never get into the college of her choice after Maffeo expressed interest in tattoo work.
Poised to prove her advisor wrong, Maffeo was accepted into The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Arts. The privately funded college, located in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, has an exceptional reputation for prestige in the arts. It has an overall selective acceptance rate of 13 percent and an 8 percent rate of its art school.
As a student, she took classes in welding, sculpting, woodwork and drawing. But she insists it was because of her courses in oil painting that she fell in love with the art form. She identifies herself as a traditional oil painter. She graduated this year with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts.
Now she is setting her sights on new ambitious that would include new artwork.
She recognizes the new change occurring with development in her neighborhood and would like to add art to the changes
“It’s so bland now,” she said of the neighborhood. “I want to bring art into it because it’s not there.”