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Studio Visit - Mia Weiner

Studio Visit - Mia Weiner

Studio Visit - Mia Weiner

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Studio Visit

Mia Weiner

Mia Weiner is a Chicago-based artist with a practice focused around textiles, the body and forms of intimacy. As she weaves her works you see the themes of gender and the psychology of human relationships.

 

Q.

Tell us about yourself and how you came to be an artist.

A.

I have always been incredibly curious and drawn to slow and close looking to better understand the world. This inquiry has carried into my practice and is what drives my making. From an early age I had always wanted to learn to sew. I didn’t grow up with anyone in my house that knew how to stitch, but I knew I needed to learn. Once I connected to this way of making there was no going back. I was incredibly lucky to grow up in a house that believed in the importance of the arts and quickly fell in love with my childhood trips to museums. My uncle was the conductor for a ballet, so I was also introduced to music and dance at a young age. My mother, along with exposing me to the arts, is clinical psychologist which has also directly influenced my work. Spending my childhood surrounded by Hindu imagery had also had a great impact on how I think about figuration.

I did not originally go to art school but studied literature and biology before deciding to transfer to a program where I could study fiber. It was under the mentorship of the incredible faculty I worked with at the Maryland Institute College of Art (where I received my BFA) that I began to respond to the historical textile and was introduced to material culture, craft theory, and other forms of critical thinking and making. After I graduated, I lived in Berlin briefly and then moved to Brooklyn which had been my home until I moved for my MFA. In New York I had a handful of jobs working in galleries, managing collections, and working as an embroidery consultant for fashion houses like Opening Ceremony.

I suppose when I was younger, I didn’t realize you could be an artist when you grew up (which now makes me giggle). Once that realization hit, there was no going back.

Q.

Describe your work in three words.

A.

Intimate
Body
Connection

Q.

What is your creative process?

A.

My creative process seems to differ depending on the series that I am working on, but my practice always begins from a place of inquiry. I usually start with doodles, milling shapes and ideas around in my head and on the page. Forms repeat and images become more clear. For my figurative weaving series, after I have a pretty good idea of the compositions I want to create, I choreograph models and myself in space. I photograph these poses and then begin to start editing. I digitally alter my photographs, removing body parts, adding coded objects or other information to the space, until I am happy with the image. I then break down the image into different weave structures, some showing more warp or weft, allowing me to create the different tones in the cloth. These works are woven on a jacquard loom, a digitally assisted hand tool where I can control each warp thread individually for each and every row that I hand weave. These works take a long time and lot of labor to produce, and usually end up weaving anywhere from 12 to 16 hours straight at a time as I work on them. Other series I rely much less on the digital and the photograph, but rather work with drawing with thread and its structures. No matter what medium or series I am working on, I try to find a balance of planning (whether imagery, material, or physical structure) and spontaneous experimentation and exploration. I want to learn something new with every piece I make.

Q.

What draws you to textiles?

A.

I have always been drawn to working with textiles because my body seems to understand this method of making. I feel a deep connection to the physicality of the work and the methods used. Cloth contains its own history, it surrounds us, it is what we use to cover our bodies everyday. Because of its ubiquity in our everyday lives, I am interested in how the textile can function as a place of connection and shared experience. Textiles are loaded objects because of their histories and labor that goes into creating them. Making work about intimacy, it always made sense to me to use a medium that I feel so connected to and we understand as our second skin. Much of my work deals with issues of gender and reconsidering those boundaries. Different textile techniques have often been considered ‘women’s work’ and belonging in the domestic sphere of the home, which I push against.

Mia Weiner says:

“Textiles are loaded objects because of their histories and labor that goes into creating them. Making work about intimacy, it always made sense to me to use a medium that I feel so connected to and we understand as our second skin.”

Mia Weiner
Mia Weiner

Q.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

A.

I am always really inspired by my environment, and the work I make is a reflection of my lived experience. I get very excited about historical objects, textile or otherwise, that have meaning and histories that seem in some way to reflect our time and current moment. I am always interested in working with the personal and understanding where it becomes a universal.

I love going to museums, walking (through a city or in nature), the flowers I pick at residencies seem to make it into the corner of my weavings, I think a lot about the places where bodies come together and where they pull away, the statuary I saw daily when I lived in Greece, Frank O’Hara, human relationships, cinema, how plants grow...

Q.

When do you make your best work?

A.

I think I make my best work when I stop questioning my motives and listen to my gut. As an artist I am constantly asking myself what I am making and why, which I think is incredibly important, but there are times when an idea or image I don’t understand continues to circulate in my head. When that happens I need to follow that impulse, even if I don’t know what it may mean, and ask why later. Usually these moments lead to incredible generative work!

Q.

What influence does modern culture have on your work?

A.

I am very interested in responding to the time I am living in. My work is very much about a conversation between past and current modes of thinking and pushing against them.

I make work that deals with proxemics, and we have now found ourselves in a moment where the awareness of the space between bodies is currently being experienced by the population at an unprecedented scale. Through my practice, I am beginning to reconsider those distances.

Q.

What is your relationship with social media?

A.

I use Instagram as a place to share new pieces and what I have been working on in the studio. It also had been a great place to stay in contact with friends, artists and to discover new work. I also constantly think about the influence of social media on my work. Both because of the political climate and the ever-increasing screen culture of the digital age, it is important to re-examine how our bodies are represented and how we interact.

Mia Weiner

Q.

What influence does living in Chicago have on your work?

A.

Chicago has had an incredible influence on my work. I never wove (and would never have expected to now call myself a weaver) before moving here two years ago. Having the opportunity to work on a loom has been an amazing experience and has led to two new series of work. I also have had the incredible opportunity to work for Nick Cave in his studio here in Chicago, which had a tremendous impact on my practice. Chicago’s art community is exciting, experimental, and supportive. Being an active member in this critical creative community and the connections I have made here in Chicago have been transformative.

Q.

What messages or emotions do you hope to convey to your audience?

A.

Intimacy, confusion, excitement, investigation, connection, love, resistance.

Q.

Who are some contemporaries or figures in art history who have influenced you?

A.

Maggie Nelson, Michelle Grabner, Cheryl Pope, Moyra Davey, Joseph Grigely, Kelly Kaczinsky, John Paul Morabito (who introduced me to the loom), Nick Cave, Meleko Megossi (and how he expands the canvas), Louise Bourgeois, greek statuary, figuration in Hindu art, renaissance painting, the impressionists, the ones I want to fight against.

Q.

Are there any quotes or mantras that you particularly connect with?

A.

Instead I will just say one of my favorite poems is Frank O’Hara’s Having a coke with you (which is also filled with some great art references).

Q.

What do you listen to when creating?

A.

I have a rotation of music and podcasts (and a little Netflix...). I am in desperate need of some new music. .

Q.

What makes you laugh?

A.

Everything

Q.

What makes you nervous?

A.

Rollercoasters

Q.

What makes you excited about the future?

A.

I am an optimist. I am always excited by what’s next. Currently, during this moment of self isolation, the residencies and exhibitions I have planned in the future have been something to work toward. I am excited for the summer and to feel sunshine on my face, I am excited to see how my work progresses, I am excited to see if my artichoke seeds take sprout.




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