Cong Ma (Masa)

Photo: Fengyuan Zhong

Photo: Fengyuan Zhong

Age || 28

Company Name || 1107m. 

Job Title || Jewelry designer 

Years Living In New York || 5

Social Handles || @__________masa

Company Website || 1107m.

What did you want to be while growing up?

A fashion designer because I was raised by artists. I loved creating things since I was a little girl.

What’s the best piece of advice you were given when you were starting out as an artist? 

My dad inspired me, he’s an artist. He told me when I’m drawing something there are no limitations of the mind. You can create whatever you imagine.

Can you tell us about your latest project The Forgotten East and what inspired you?

One of my lastest jewelry designs: Double-sided Silk embroidered earrings inspired me. I’m really into the history of silk and China is the father of Silk.  My pieces combine traditional techniques and contemporary looks. My designs are a fusion of east and west. That is also the meaning of the Silk Road. China is known as having the peak period in technique and art. Since traditional culture is fading away, people gradually forget to appreciate the beauty of ancient civilizations. With this art exhibition I wanted to reintroduce them to the rich culture and history of China.

Photo: Dylan Xie

Photo: Dylan Xie

How do you define success?

Freedom of creating things.

What is your creative process like?

There is no process really. I am always in the mood to create art and the process is always changing. Sometimes I feel like nothing is ever really done. It’s more like a series of constantly improving whatever I’m creating until I feel that there is nothing left to change. I usually confide in people close to me, as well. Then I am happy. 

What can people expect when visiting the installation?

People get to know the Silk Road by taking the journey and understand that the Silk Road is still going on. 

Do you have a personal motto? 

Never give up.

Which women inspire you?

My mom inspires me because she always sees the brighter side of things and consistently encourages me.

Photo: Fengyuan Zhong

Photo: Fengyuan Zhong

How do you overcome moments of self-doubt?

I usually remember that I am creating art for myself and for the people who will appreciate it, and that is enough for me. That pushes me to keep creating art. 

What is the hardest part about being your own boss?

Knowing when to go home and being happy with the work I’ve produced.

How do you handle situations where you feel overwhelmed?

I will work out.

What has been the most rewarding thing since opening this installation?

People enjoying the art and asking about the culture has been the most rewarding.

How have you worked to empower women through your creations?

I enjoy giving all women the opportunity to feel beautiful and confident in the skin their in while wearing my jewelry and clothing designs.

Photo: Dylan Xie

Photo: Dylan Xie

What obstacles have you faced as an immigrant and how have they affected your work?

There are a lot of cultural differences. People tend to assume my intelligence because English is not my first language. It hasn’t really affected my work in a major way though. I don’t really care what people think so I continue to follow my dreams.

What advice would you give to other women trying to enter your field?

Never give up, you can do whatever you want if you put your mind to it.

What are some of your goals moving forward as an artist?

One of my short term goals is selling more of my pieces through my jewelry website . A long term goal is to produce more fine art like paintings as an independent artist.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Sarah Fielding