LMCC Community Engagement Associate, Arzoo Hansen, stopped by 28 Liberty Street (currently home to LMCC’s Workspace artists-in-residence studios) to chat with visual artist Irini Miga about her practice, being named a “badass emerging female artist” by the Huffington Post, and presenting her work in this year’s Open Studios.
It’s always so nice to see you! You’re one of the most upbeat and relaxed artists I’ve met. What’s your secret? Do you just have extra coffee?
IM: (laughs) It’s just how I see the world in general! I don’t get caught in small things.
That’s nice to hear. A positive attitude goes such a long way. Alright, should we jump into talking about your work?
In 2015, The Huffington Post published an article called “10 Badass Emerging Female Artists You Should Know” and you were on the list. Just curious, what’s a typical day like for a badass emerging female artist?
IM: I’m a morning person, so I try to come to my studio as early as possible. To me, the studio is a space where my work evolves both in its physical and conceptual attributes, a space where experimentation happens. I have a “to-do” list written, even before I come into the studio, of what I want to do, and I keep up with things weekly. Of course, because of the creative process things always happen as planned because some works require more time or something unexpected comes in the process. We live in New York, where there are so many things happening and to have a life here, you have to do not just one thing but many things together and you have to be good at all of them in order to be able to sustain your life and creativity.
Very cool. In terms of your work, I was wondering if you could explain your work to me. According to your bio on our website, your practice “touches painterly nuances as an unfolding sketchbook of our everyday reality in physical space.” Can you break down what that means to someone with a limited arts vocabulary?
IM: Definitely. Playing with notions of duality like form and utility, familiarity and unfamiliarity, and thinking about the relation between sculpture and painting, I see my installations as painterly orchestrations of everyday life in physical space. To me, it is equally important the concept, the materials, with the painterly aspects of the work in its execution – the color that will activate my works and its surroundings through paint brush strokes, or pencil marks. In that manner, the work engages with its surroundings in a cohesive way, as a painting engages with its canvas or a drawing with its paper.
So, it’s recreating everyday objects using materials one wouldn’t expect?
IM: Yes, I am interested in the use of unexpected materials. Changing the materiality, or scale, and subverting expectations in the subject matter is one thing. The moment of discovery of what you actually see is not what you originally thought you were seeing is important to me. Metal rods covered with paper resemble paper straws, clay becomes a piece of wood, cardboard, a fruit, or an iPhone case for example. [Ed note: the pics of the light switch, persimmons, and headphone buds in the slideshow are made of clay!]
What inspired you to work in these mediums?
IM: I try to create this space where sculpture and painting live together as one, something like unified space where we are approaching reality with a different perspective. And juxtaposing basic sculptural and painterly materials with gestures, and objects invested in time really becomes a mechanism for me in this conversation.
And is that part of what you’ve been creating during your Workspace residency people can see during the Open Studios in April?
IM: Yes, of course, and I’m super excited to open my studio doors to the wider public! Open Studios is a moment where we will meet a lot of people we don’t know and yes, people who we do know like our friends will come, and people who have visit us in the past and want to see how the work evolved during this period will also come. Here in LMCC’s Workspace, we can work outside the studios too, in the communal areas. So Open Studios will be a really fun weekend!
I really love stopping by artist studios who are in residence with us for an extended period of time, it’s exciting to experience how their projects or creative process has evolved over time and hearing from artists about their latest project. You’ve been in the Workspace program since the end of September of 2015. What is one of the things you’ve enjoyed about the residency?
In the beginning, there’s an adjustment period. Getting used to new a space, bringing your tools and materials to a new environment, especially this environment which is so different – it’s an unusual space for an artist! Then after the settling in, you realize that you are part of this community, which is one of the most important things for artists. Whether you’re meeting artists in school, in shows, or in a residency like this, the way we build a dialogue between us is invaluable.
What are you planning to do after your Workspace residency ends?
IM: I’m going to go to my home country Greece, it will be a combination of work and vacation.
OK. Last question, what would you be if you weren’t an artist?
IM: If I wasn’t? That’s a tough one! I don’t know…that would have been a different life.
Learn more about Irini Miga and her projects at www.irinimiga.com. Meet Irini Miga and learn more about her works and creative process during Open Studios on Friday, April 29-30, 2016 in LMCC’s Studios at 28 Liberty Street.
Featured Image Photo Credit: Arzoo Hansen for LMCC
Caption: Artist’s desk (2016) Photo Credit: Arzoo Hansen
Caption: Studio View (2016) Photo Credit: Arzoo Hansen
Caption: Studio View, Work in progress Waiting for a phone call (working title). Pencil and pencil mark (2015). Photo Credit: Courtesy of Irini Miga
Caption: Studio View, Work in progress (2015). Notebook, clay, metal, carved wall, cigarette, carbon dioxide, water vapor, oxygen and nitrogen, and marble dust. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Irini Miga
Caption: Studio View, Work in progress (2015). Photo Credit: Courtesy of Irini Miga