Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Humanoid Art Dolls of International Emerging Artist Mariana Monteagudo

My romance with Mariana Monteagudo's art dolls started last summer, 2011, when a friend and staff of the Museum of Latin American Art told me to look at her work.  This was when the musuem had just purchased one of her amazing art dolls which take their inspiration from many sources, including folk art dolls.  My friend said the art doll that they purchased had extremely different reactions.  Some people loving it and others finding it disturbing and creepy.

Since then, Mariana has expanded her repertoire by breaking out of using ceramics and experimenting with new materials like hard latex.  Her newest exhibition, Humanoid which opens, April 12, 2012 will expose the world to these newest works.  They are still stunning, but even bigger and better.  In perfect timing for this art event, I asked her to do an interview for Artist in LA LA Land blog and she kindly agreed. I'm very please to present her lovely responses below.  I hope they will give you more insight into this amazing artist and endear you even more to her complicated art doll sculptures.  Thank you, Mariana for you time.

Tell us a little bit about you and how you came to creating your amazing art dolls.  

I come from a family of artists. My entire childhood was about drawing, playing with clay, painting, etc…I never doubted I was going to be a professional artist. For a long period I was more driven towards illustration, constantly making characters, princesses, dolls, monsters … mostly figurative.
I learned to work with clay at my mother’s studio, and how to draw at my father’s, so fortunately the environment was very rich and complete…After finishing my painting career, I started to make figures with clay and plaster, always remembering my childhood’s characters. It was a true discovery; the figures came out quite strange and had a particular and unsetting energy. They came very natural, with a playful approach and zero prejudices.  
Then I decided to show them, and people’s response was amazing, sometimes tremendously enthusiastic and others of total rejection. That love-hate extreme feelings is the ultimate point of my sculptures. If you pass by without feeling anything, my effort would be completely wasted…
Tell us about where you work and your city or surrounding cityscape/landscape. 
The atmosphere at my studio is continuously changing, often really messy, sometimes clean and organized, it goes with the inspiration…One of the things that makes it look particularly baroque is the fact that I need to have all my stuff on sight, so when I’m working on a piece I need to turn my head all over the studio on the search of the material or object that suits that particular piece. 

Does this location provide inspiration for you?  Do you have a favorite place to visit where you live? 
 My studio is at a little house located in Miami, surrounded with trees and lakes, so when I am out of inspiration or too stressed I just go for a walk or a 30 minute run. I like to work from home, its part of my development. The work has always been interwoven with my daily life, I think it makes the art unfold in a particularly natural way. For me, there is no separation between work and the life at home; the art is not put in a protected or elevated space. Sometimes is hard not to feel over-saturated with the routine, but its just matter of putting some creativity to maintain your space fresh and fertile for new ideas.
What is a typical day for you? 

As I don’t have to work within a particular schedule, I try to be structured. My boss (myself) is really really demanding and stuck to a strict routine. Wake up, go for a walk, work till lunch, take a break, and go back to the studio. That’s my routine I begin with the principle that if you want to be a good artist, you have to lock yourself in your studio and spend many hours in making and thinking. It’s a quite obsessive and lonely method but I think there is no other way to do it, at least I don’t know any other…I think you have to be respectful with your audience. If you make a well-done piece, that involves not only craftsmanship, but also lots of reflection… 
 What is your mission or philosophy that guides what you do in your art? 

My work is not pre conceived, I try to pour myself into each piece in the most spontaneous and organic creative practice. It is very personal and each piece is an opportunity of self-exploration. Art is not just about making objects; it’s about doing meaningful things that will enrich life’s insight.

What is at least one lesson you’ve learned since you’ve started out on this path?  It could be about art or life. 

The more I work, the more I feel ignorant… after 15 years, I see my work only as a process, a never ending path of discoveries. Each group of pieces just opens a whole new set of fresh ideas for the following ones. Another thing I try to practice is true independence, to really listen my own voice all the time, and forget the noise outside. That’s the only way to cultivate the delicate balance of particularity without just trying to be original… Also I learned the importance of to keeping a good balance between good ideas and good craftsmanship. Not putting one over the other.Sometime I see artists way too rushed to produce a good idea into an art piece that they forget to make it well visually speaking… You might have genius ideas, but if you don’t execute them well, you’re wasting it. As I always say, we’re surrounded by overnight occurrences that could have been great art pieces…If you have an idea, work hard, let it mature for the longest time possible before being tempted to expose.

What are lessons that you still believe you need to learn? 

Patience, It comes with the age I guess.And since I have a strict boss (myself) I tend to be too stressful, so I need to learn to relax a bit…Fortunately my husband is a really light spirited guy, and balances me perfectly. When I’m too obsessed or anxious, he comes with a barbecue party or a trip to the beach ;-) 
How do you stay connected with your audience?  
I cannot be at all the places my pieces go, so I try to be connected via Face book, email, behance, or any other social media…What I discovered is that people connect with my work without any fear or prejudice. I love to have feedback from common people, rather than curators or critics.Sometimes they come with surprisingly accurate insights about my figures that often help me to see it from another angle. It s refreshing!

Did you have a community or people who helped you get your start as an artist?  Tell us a little about them and how they helped you. 

I spent my entire early career in Venezuela, and I m deeply thankful with the people who helped me there.I had the opportunity to show the work from a very young age at the most respected venues. That’s a privilege not many countries can provide…

How do you spend time when you are not working? 

I’m thinking about my work, he he!Its so connected with my daily life that’s is almost impossible to separate my identity, myself from my work.It is a way of life, If I'm not on the studio, I looove to go to flea markets or going to galleries to see new images. Or to the beach in the chase of little objects left in the sand, it is just fun!Is great to feel that as long as you have your senses open the world is nothing but an endless source of inspiration…

What is your favorite art doll, yours or another's artwork and why? 

Kewpie is a doll from the 20’s created by rose o Neil. It’s a lovely chubby baby that could be any babyIs the idea of creating a universal figure that condenses the idea of the child what that I love about it.  Also the Sasha doll has this idea of the generic child created by the late Sasha Morgenthaler (1893 – 1975)

With my pieces I try to make a connection with the audience without boundaries or time or color. My children are universal and have all the features of the humanity.

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Nice to hear from you. I always appreciate you sharing your ideas and thoughts with me. Thank you.


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