Meet the San Diegan Muslim Female Artist That is Redefining Abstract Art

by Sarah Kadous 

Taylor McCabe is a 19 year old convert Muslim American with a sick sense of fashion and an even sicker way with words and a paintbrush. At first glance of her paintings, we are shouted at by colors of the rainbow and strokes of rigidness and anger. However, with looks just a bit further, it is evident that this work is of love, self fulfillment and clarity.

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McCabe, or TAY, as she signs her work, pulls inspiration from neo-classicist artist Jean Michel-Basquiat, notorious for his primitive, elementary drawing style married to pop art reminiscence. “..He would either watch TV or read a book, or simply sit and think, and any phrase he liked or image he would quickly scribble it onto the canvas…I like to do the same, however I simply use this method when I want to work through specific emotions. I’ll sit and think and whatever comes out of my brain first is what goes onto the canvas,” the artist explains. The product of this process leaves the audience with a feminine, anti-corporate, raw, essentially euphoric arrangement.

There is an undeniable sense of spirituality that flows through every art work of TAY. In the loose forms of structure, Islamic terms between the figures, the seemingly strategic grouping of colors -it can always be spotted.  McCabe’s religious conversion may have a lot to do with this unique merging of identities. “The Muslim community is so inviting, but its all new to me so I feel left out at times. On the other hand, the non-Muslim friends and colleagues I have I also feel left out around as I don’t have many things in common with them anymore. I like to utilize these feelings of discourse through my work, especially in the newer pieces I’ve created”.


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However, not all of TAY’s thoughts can be expressed through canvases. It often takes the harmonious marriage between poetry and paint to properly express what she hopes to. “I’ll think of some words and just sort of throw them together on a piece of paper and eventually it just turns into a poem. Most of the poems I write are just free thinking, letting my brain spew out whatever it wills” says McCabe.

And spew it does, as we are left with precariously accurate analogies.

This is most notable through these lines in her One Nectarine Away from Total Disintegration:

“I don’t speak in Morse Code but I do speak in long nights alone, quarrels, cowl necks, lung damage, one good seeing eye, consistent doubts of my abilities, and lusting over things that may never be.”

Her earlier, remencent ideas such as game of elementary telephone  allow readers to climb into a pool of relation, even if the relation is far from direct.

 “I like to be vulnerable with my work, I think that’s what makes it somehow more relatable to the audience viewing-that maybe one of these emotions or phrases or drawings will touch your soul in some way, and that’s what I feel my purpose is with my craft.” says McCabe. “I just want people to feel included and involved, even if they’ve done nothing to contribute.”

TAY’s art not only hangs in the lasting walls of her spectators’ minds but have also been featured in nearly twenty art galleries across San Diego. When the young expresser does not carry a brush in her hand, you’ll catch her sharing spoken poetry at school or slamming poetry slams.


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The nineteen year old has set out to not only release herself through her works, but religious minorities along with her.

“There is not much Muslim representation in the current art world,[at least the one I’m apart of], and the more pieces I create in reverence to my spirituality the more comfortable I feel in my own skin and the more I feel I’m consolidating the two things I love the most”.

By painting encounters and expressions and growth of her own years of living, McCabe hopes that her viewers can find pieces of themselves as well.

“I like to think of myself as a chameleon in the sense that I am always changing and growing, physically and mentally,[I dye my hair a lot of different colors lol], and my art has always changed with me,” says McCabe.

And with every new hair color, comes a bead of style on the necklace that is TAY’s art.

The young, bubbly, redefining creator holds one piece of wisdom for aspiring artists:

“I think it takes a specific type of strength to be able to be vulnerable in every aspect of life, and to accept each emotional wave as it comes and process it through art[or another medium]. It can be difficult and at times daunting, but with every passion project there will be emotional toil that in turn makes you grow a thousand times stronger than you once were. So my advice is, BE VULNERABLE WITH YOURSELF. It will pay off.”

Check out more of TAY’S work @overeasyart  and follow her on Twitter and Instagram

Sarah Kadous

Sarah Kadous is a 15 year old Muslim American political activist and writer from the mostly sunny San Diego, CA. Kadous is currently a sophomore at Mt. Carmel High School, and plans on pursuing a career in political journalism and public policy once she graduates. When she’s not fulfilling her duties as a writer for Adolescent Content and Pure Nowhere, you’ll fine her rocking out to Tchaikovsky in her bedroom, eating a plethora of strawberries, protesting on the streets or angrily listening to the news while on a run. 

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