Mia Weiner Interview - The Hopper Prize

Mia Weiner

Mia Weiner on art as a language to understand the world, shifting narratives from the past, & weaving as a meditative act.

How did you get into making art?

I’ve always made art. It’s the language I use to understand the world. Mathematicians have numbers, I have thread.

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 textiles and this way of making there was no going back. My mother, along with exposing me to the arts, is clinical psychologist which has directly influenced my work. I also spent my childhood surrounded by Hindu imagery which very much affected how I think about the figure.

What are you currently working on?

I just started weaving a new series that I have been dreaming about for a couple of months. I start my process by choreographing bodies (along with my own ) in space and then take digital photographs. These images are then altered in photoshop until I am happy with the composition – body parts are removed, objects added, contrast and color complicated. Next, I create a giant map of how to weave the image. I am able to create different tones in the cloth by using different woven structures (ex/ twill, satin, waffle weave) and puzzle them together before I head to the loom and hand weave each tapestry. I just began weaving a series of women’s bodies posed on rocks on the sea. The images feel mythological, celestial – the women are nymphs, sirens, forms of the goddess. The energy of water along with the mist and fog covering the horizon leave the figures almost floating. I am very interested in how the figure, and in this series in particular the female form, has been represented throughout art history and how to shift some of the narratives of the past to empowering messages, giving these bodies agency and power.

I’ve always made art. It's the language I use to understand the world.

Mia Weiner

What inspired you to get started on this body of work?

My solo exhibition, Foreplay, just closed in Los Angeles, and I went to Bali on a research trip and to study different energy healing modalities. Weaving has become a bit of a meditative act for me and while working am also consciously activating the cloth with different energies including Reiki energy. In Bali, I was amazed at how strongly I felt and connected with water energy. When I came home, I decided to go through images I shot while at a residency on the ocean. These images of women that I took on rocks felt really alive and was ready to begin piecing the images together to begin weaving. Foreplay, my last exhibition, really played with intimacy, gender and sexuality. How bodies tangle, moments of rest, play, tension, love, union. I was really excited to continue thinking about these moments of connection and oneness along with very visceral feelings, like floating in water or a deep breath, through the body in an entirely different way.

Do you work on distinct projects or do you take a broader approach to your practice?

Usually, I work on a single series at a time, getting carried away in the images being created. Each weaving builds on the next. Each piece I learn something. When I began weaving I had to learn a new rhythm of making. I can only weave one work at a time if I want it to be a single piece of cloth – not stitched together in pieces. Each piece informs the next and shifts what I was planning on working on next so the queue is forever changing. Every piece is an experiment with color, the structure of cloth, composition, and each time the work is taken off the loom there is a great reveal. When I start a series I get really lost in the world of those images, finding places of tension, heart opening, rest, confusion, play. I even start to dress in the color palette that I’m working in. That being said, there are some major themes that connect each series to my greater practice, centering around body.

What’s a typical day like in your studio?

I like to wake up fairly early and get to the studio in the morning when I am feeling really clear. I usually do a short meditation before jumping on the loom to weave. I weave for a couple hours and take break to get some computer work done after lunch. Around 4 I like to take a walk to a pilates or yoga class and then weave a bit more in the evening. Weaving 8+ hours in a single day can be pretty hard on the body (especially because I weave standing) and that break saves my back and shoulders (mostly…). The windows in my studio face west so I get the sunset every day which is pretty magical most nights and like to work into the night.
There are also days when I am not in the studio at all, when I am working with models to create the photographs that become the basis for my weaving (and other exploration/projects/adventures). Recently it has been raining a lot in LA (which has been wild for us) and the lighting has been particularly dreamy but chilly so have been heading home early to do the laptop portion from my couch instead.

Who are your favorite artists?

I don’t play favorites 😉

I love ancient art, I love my peers, and a good handful of artists in-between.

Where do you go to discover new artists?

Everywhere. friends, openings, instagram. Since moving to LA it has been really amazing to become part of the community here. It is really energizing and welcoming and am excited by so much of the work being shown and created here right now.

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