Michael Paramo is a Queer Xicanx artist-theorist and PhD Student at the University of British Columbia, located on the traditional, ancestral and stolen territory of the Musqueam, exploring themes of power, identity, and the metaphysical with a focus on portraiture. Born and raised on the traditional, ancestral, and stolen territories of the Tongva, Acjachemen, and Payómkawichum, Michael grew up in a Mexican-American family in the suburbs of north Orange County. Although they were conditioned from a young age to assimilate and adopt the values of settler colonial European American culture, they struggled to embrace and identify with its violent rigidity. One of their most difficult conflicts was accepting the settler colonial imposition that they were, or should become, a cisgender heterosexual man – a social construct which defined so much of their everyday life and suffocated their spirit’s expression in the material realm.
Michael has created art spontaneously since they were a child. They recall memories of their eagerness to share their newest creations with mother and artist Martha Guillen-Paramo. In their adolescence, Michael largely repressed their gift of artmaking as a result of their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual challenges with existing. After several years of inconsistence and without institutional instruction, Michael created their first digital self-portrait in 2018, a medium which they continue to primarily work in. A year later, Michael began creating art under the artist name M.AZE, which is meant to reflect the critical role artmaking has played for them in navigating the internal and external labryinths of l̶i̶f̶e̶ survival amidst the unspeakable violence of the ongoing settler colonial project. In January 2020, Michael had their first public art showing at the University of British Columbia’s second annual Art + Memory + Justice Symposium.