AIR Interview: Mia Daniels
Mia Daniels, one of our AIR cycle 8 residents, uses everyday objects to situate her work within a context where myth and the unknown reside. She aims to cultivate a sensitivity in her work as a way to consider uncertainty and the fragile divide between beauty and decay. During her time at TAC, she has discovered that engaging in textile craft in today’s world can embody both an experience of labour and luxury. Mia shared some words with me about her creative background, what influences her work, and her time at TAC.
On her creative background:
“I grew up in a house filled with beautiful handmade textiles from different parts of the world: Guatemala, Mexico, Indonesia, Thailand, Lao, Nepal, India… the art of my home, they embodied my experiences: an intimate recollection of travel, family, adventure, and the ability to immerse yourself in the joyous unknown. I remember my first encounter with natural dye: on the coast of Oaxaca exploring the intertidal rocks with my sister and friends, collecting catechol/snails and rubbing their special slime onto our heads, permanently dyeing Mexican hair a beautiful deep purple, while my sister and my fair hair turned a bright punk pink to mirror our sun-scorched skin.”
On what influences her work:
“An informative part of my practice comes from residing within the board cultures of snow and surf: a sort of modern nomadism in which living in cars, vans, tents, and on sailboats is intrinsically a part of the lifestyle. Through these experiences I have come to learn that limitations can be liberating. Such challenges can provide a framework for highlighting assumptions and questioning behaviors, beliefs, and values. It was within the ocean’s crashing waves in which I first encountered the simultaneity of chaos and fluidity, an abstract duality which challenges the black/white polarizations in which we are so accustom to in the grappling of sense-making in our unstable world – although at the time I might have described it more attune to experiencing the powers of freedom, beauty, and destruction all together tumbled within the crashing ions.”
On her material choices:
“I think that the use of everyday materials situates the work in a very real – not contrived – context, while a sort of ‘ad-hocism’ creates space for myth and the unknown. ‘At once elegant and in shambles’ is a sensitivity I aim to cultivate as a way to consider uncertainty: exposing the fragile divide between beauty and decay, if even there is one. Evidencing a lived culture, the materials allude toward the process or experience being the work itself. It is through this use of ambiguity in which the potential for a personal experience of discovery may lie: the viewer or participant has the opportunity to decide for themselves. I believe these balances are important, not as an either/or and not as propaganda, but as a platform to negotiate the problematic binaries which seem to make it difficult to embrace complexity and uncertainty.”
On her experience at TAC:
“I came in with the intention to learn skills of making and have been amazed at how some relatively simple and lo-fi methods, to spin fibers or to build up the chaotic structure of a felt fabric, for example, can be equally humbling and empowering. Through this material intimacy I am intrigued at how engaging in textile craft in today’s world can embody both an experience of labour and luxury. There seems to lie much potential for the slow, methodical processes of working with your hands – ‘remembering in our bodies’ the learned cultural wisdoms – to inform or (re)discover more intimate cultural expressions.”
On what artists/art movements she looks to:
“Most recently I have been looking to the Assemblages, Arte Povera, and Fluxes: Happenings and Collective Actions, and more directly to the ‘embodied actions’ and the ‘everydays’ of Andrea Zittel, Francis Alys, Franz Erhard Walther, Otto von Busch, Richard Wentworth, Yvonne Rainer. I often consider Rainer’s ability to reveal the poetic acts of the peculiarities of the ordinary performing body. In essence, it is about a shift in perspective through the reveal of a mundane-sort-of-magic – that which often goes unseen.”
Photos by Mia Daniels
Mia Daniels is from the Pacific North West (Canada), studied Industrial Design at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and currently lives in Brooklyn NY for the duration of the TAC residency.
Check out the video below to see Mia in action!