art maker, soul shaker
\ may-lee-uh • sigh-toh \
I am the descendant of Nisei resilience and Chinese immigrant perseverance. I come from a family of restaurant workers, truck drivers, and artists that had to sacrifice creative dreams in order to survive the American one. With this, I'm deeply honored to say that I am a pretty good cook, an absolute road trip master, and I get to be surrounded by the creative arts for a living.
Since I can remember, drawing was my very first means of expression. The itch to create, paired with a curiosity for experiencing as much as there is in life meant nonstop exploration. Growing up, I continued to learn mediums such as photography, graphic design, screen printing, music, and filmmaking.
In 2018, I graduated from San Jose State with a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Studies with a minor in Journalism. My major was, at the time, a pilot program under the Department of Anthropology where I practiced user experience research methods and studied community management. It was through my program that I began partnering with San Jose Japantown, with whom I did my senior capstone project on community engagement in disaster preparedness. I utilized my Journalism minor as a way to formally learn video production. My focus on broadcast news allowed me to work on a CSU-award winning documentary on refugee integration in Greece and Italy. Ultimately, studying organizational structures and being a campus journalist both heavily influence my eye for community-centered storytelling.
Upon graduation, I decided to tap back into my roots with analog art mediums, namely screen printing, which was how I got introduced to the local vending community in the Bay Area. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I transitioned from being a vending artist to scaling walls as a mural artist. Additionally, I was getting back behind the camera by shooting concerts for live-streaming at local music venues.
Today, I'm incredibly grateful to have a dual career in video production and the public arts. I'm also a part-time locations manager for electronic music artists. I shoot and edit with the School of Arts and Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza, with work partnerships spanning Local Color San Jose, The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, The Japanese American Museum of San Jose, and The New York Times. Much of the work I make is centered around the values of discovery, earnesty, and empowerment.
Additional life stages that got me to where I am today include 10 years in the food industry, running an after-school art program in the South Bronx, and driving all across the US.
Select press: CONTENT Magazine | Martha Street Art Night | Burlingame Public Library
Currently open for freelance camera operator opportunities. Open for public arts commissions after March 2023. Contact me via email at mayleasaito[at]gmail.com.
Instagram: @mayleasaito. LinkedIn.
Background photo by Andrew Sumner.