COMPERSION (noun): The gratification we feel for somebody else, even when their positive experience does not involve or benefit us directly. This is not just an uncommon word coined to describe some kind of feeling by someone some decades ago; it is also the title of Los Angeles-based artist Maya Fuhr’s first U.S. solo exhibition. Having just finished a joint-exhibition with some local ceramists and artists in Aldo Chaparro Studio in Los Angeles, Maya delve into the preparation of her solo exhibition straight away. With only one day to the opening of her exhibition, CAP 74024 is here speaking with Maya about her concept, her artwork and her journey on the creation of the sensational yet sensible exhibition Compersion.


Hi Maya, thanks for taking time to with us! How’s your day?


Hi, thanks for asking. I’m good – I put some oil in my car this morning and noticed the white flowers have blossomed on the trees on my street, and now i’m painting with pink latex. I just made a new batch. Feeling replenished and refreshed this morning!


Glad that you had a replenished and refreshing morning! It’s such a lovely way to start your day by doing things you like and having some cute little discoveries that makes us feel happy and blissful. As you mentioned about you had just mad some pink latex painting this morning, we would like to know more about your art! You have just participated in a joint exhibition Ceramique with other artists, with the aim to fund the non-profit project CLAYDD. How did the exhibition go? How was the experience?


The exhibition was super successful, we raised money through art sales to enable us to continue our workshops in the special education programs in L.A schools, and benefiting kids with mental health struggles and special needs. Without the generous donations from the art community, this wouldn’t be possible. It was also a really great way to celebrate the team of CLAYDD and all the artists we love – space is so important. Galleries have the ability to really act as a safe space to bring people together.


I’ve only lived in L.A for 2 years, so it’s been cool to meet a lot of talented artists – Mostly Chicano and beautiful people working with ceramic medium. Community is a huge pillar to my work and Ceramique was a beautiful experience, bringing people together through mindfulness, art, and collectively making a difference in the world. Doesn’t get much better!

In your upcoming solo exhibition Compersion, you talked a lot about sex, intimacy, voyeurism and desire. Where does this idea come from? And how do you unfold your concept/plan?


Compersion has been quite the process exploring my own desires and stepping back to look at my photography career and this voyeurism that i’ve had permission to develop over the years.


It’s hard to put how I measured it into words – but it started with my photography and the amazing opportunities i’ve had to photograph pornstars, sex workers, celebrities and latex brands. Connection gives me purpose, and I connect with my subjects through the lens. This body of work was a chance for me to get connected with myself again. My studio is in the garage of my house and I felt it was where I belonged. Exploring my obsession with latex, my relationship to subjects in my photographs and my intimate desires that I haven’t truly let myself be seen. I joke that this exhibition is kind of like retreating back to the womb, back to a comfy, safe place. The feeling of latex resembles this womb world. It’s a second skin, secure, personal. I had so much fun with the complete process, and now I want to share it with people and see what “compersion” they can explore for themselves after seeing it.


Even to this date, male gaze is rooted in our society and in the history of art. We’ve seen a lot of female artists talking about sex and reinterpret women’s body from their perspective. What are your thoughts about this trend and transformation? Do you think that female gaze renders a different perspective to the male gaze? What do you see in sex and women’s body when you look at it?


You know, when I started out my career in the mid 2000s, it was in a very trendy time of a new wave of feminism inspired by the young female photographers that were working, and i’d always be asked these questions about being female and I never knew how to answer them. I was confused about how being a female had anything to do with my work. It’s not until I got older, I’m 33 now, where I’ve had time to really be with myself and get to know myself as a human and woman. I now get that vulnerability is grounding, and it’s uncomfortable sharing that side of myself with the world – but it’s easier now to put it into words. I can’t see sex and woman’s body generally – we are all so different, but what I can speak from is my own personal experience being this woman and having this body. The male gaze does not complete me, being turned on doesn’t depend on it either. What reinterprets my body from my perspective is feeling sexy, it’s “compersion”, it’s through what I get to wear on my skin, it’s through breath, it’s through all these things that I didn’t learn growing up being a young woman. Hence, I navigated my sexuality and my body on my own, aside from how other people viewed it. Girls can be told their imperfect, educated about their body and how to pleasure themselves: I hope there’s a future of that. For this exhibition, I’m partnering with Non-Profit Centre for Positive Sexuality that is committed to research and sex education on this.

The title Compersion isn’t a frequently used word and concept in English, what was the reason you title your exhibition with this word, and what is the story behind it?


Compersion is a Buddhist practice that we can all learn from. By definition it’s a wholehearted participation in the happiness of others. It is the sympathetic joy we feel for somebody else, even when their positive experience does not involve or benefit us directly. Thus, compersion can be thought of as the opposite of jealousy and possessiveness. The poly-community coined this term about 40 years ago as feeling of joy from others’ pleasure, specifically celebrating your partner(s)’ other relationships in a polyamorous structure. My goal is that people can experience this feeling at the gallery, by interacting with the work and watching other people. Some of the subjects in the work are dominatrix, porn stars, drag queens – and in a way, their work allows for compersion. I’m inviting people to ask themselves what they could discover from compersion?


In this exhibition, you invite the viewers to interact, or to say touch, your sculpture for the investigation of their inner voyeuristic desire and intimacy. What was the concept and idea behind this design? Is there any expectation you wish the viewers to achieve or gain from this interaction process?


Latex is such a tactile material.  I personally get so much joy from touching it and wearing it, but it can fulfill different desires for people that aren’t just directly visceral. For example, doctors wear gloves, there’s a distance between them and the patient. There can be a forbidden quality too. Latex can be skin-like, satisfying; and it also has a clinging protection. I’ll be providing pink surgical gloves and oil so some of the pieces can be felt. I’m curious to see what different people will get out of it. It’s not just sexual, it engenders healing. There’s also an inflatable piece called “Pony Tail” that I collaborated with Rat Studios on. You can touch the artwork, walk under it and be transported into another world of escape.

After hearing so many interesting stories about your exhibition and your artworks, we are wondering what are the messages you want to convey behind your art?


A safe space to explore desire.


If you can conclude the exhibition with one sentence, or even more, in one word. What would it/they be?




LOL! That’s indeed a very succinct, simple yet the most punctual word to describe your exhibition. Thank you for taking time to have this talk with us today. Would you mind sharing some of your future plans with us? In artistic creation or personal growth, we’d like to hear everything you’d like to share! 🙂


I’m looking at a special art residency in Mexico City, my latex work has just begun and I’m excited to develop it further. I’m also collaborating a lot within the non-profit CLAYDD and further growing our team, with lots of more meditation and clay workshops to come!


I’m going to camp more because it’s starting to get warm in L.A, and I usually travel with my photography work – so who knows where that will take me. All in all, I’m taking on being present, playful and trusting. Making sure i’m enjoying the experience along the way, and not thinking tooooo far in the future. 😉





Compersion is Los Angeles-based artist Maya Fuhr’s first solo exhibition in the United States. Opening on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, 2023, it will be on view at SADE Gallery from the opening day to March 14th, 2023. Visit by appointment only.

Interview by Yves Tsou