Describe how you came to be an artist and your challenges.
Blurry, fuzzy, or pixelated are all ways I have explained my eyesight. I have dominant optic atrophy, which is an incurable and degenerative eye disease that causes a lack of visual acuity, living in low resolution. When I was in middle school, my dad began teaching me how to paint. With my new creative interests, I planted myself in eighth-grade art class. “You can’t be an artist if you can’t see” were the poisonous words my teacher thought to share with me after finding out I had difficulty seeing. To my young mind, this made sense, but I was devastated and struggled in school. A challenge I have is communicating how I see. I am not blind and have no physical indicators to show I am visually impaired so most people don't know I don’t see well or they make assumptions about what my limitations and capabilities are. Then a pageant advertisement caught my attention. My feminist mom begrudgingly signed me up. Stage fright from looking out at a sea of people is a feeling I will never know: everyone is a blur of colors. I had found my superpower within my weakness and I spent the next decade of my life in the beauty industry. In high school, my parents fought battles with teachers who refused to make accommodations for me because “the real world wouldn’t make accommodations.” As a rebellious frustrated teenager, I realized adults could be wrong. I developed a deep-seated need to share these challenges through my art. I went on to receive my Bachelors of Fine Arts from the California State University of Bakersfield and my Masters of Fine Art from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.
Describe your artistic practices?
The performative nature of pageantry lends itself naturally to utilizing performance as a medium and vehicle to deliver my concepts. I pull from my experiences to question the dominating ideologies of beauty, gender, and the idea of “perfection” fused with the disturbing and obsessive struggle to obtain it. Social norms and the expression and suppression of stereotypes within femininity and feminism cause the prejudicial idea that the two are opposite. My works dealing with this issue have culminated in my self-designated title and birth of Miss Art World--a concept that embodies the feminist feminine fighter, a champion for social change who uses creative activism to inspire thoughtful conversation, cultural advancement, and inclusivity as a lifelong performance piece. I envision others joining the Miss Art World movement of creative queens with the power, courage, and strength to use their art for social change and equality.
Describe long-term aspirations for your work.
Looking forward and keeping with the concept of experiences informing my art, motherhood is a new theme for me. Stories of motherhood are profoundly emotional – some more miraculous, some more horrific. Exploring these subjects within art is rare partly due to the lack of female artists willing to venture here. Artists who choose to be mothers are fearful of being dropped by galleries that traditionally believe that these artists’ “priorities must have changed.” This results in the calculated decision by artists to avoid identifying as a mother and broaching the subject within their artwork. The global pandemic deepens the social and cultural lack of openness and attention to childbirth. The isolation causes the support system around mothers to be largely stripped away resulting in psychological, physical, financial, and career halting ramifications. I know this personally since I gave birth to my first child during the pandemic.
Describe your accomplishments?
Over the years I have performed all over California and beyond. My performances include Art Basel Conversations Miami in 2017 and in 2019 two solo shows “Sentenced to Death” at Studio Channel Islands Art Center and “Second Skins” at Los Angeles Art Association. My latest performance “Diversity Walks and Talks” was featured in the 2020 LA Art Show’s DIVERSEartLA section. For this performance, I interviewed over 120 individuals about their views on diversity then invited them to walk the runway in whatever wardrobe they felt represented themselves while their pre-recorded interviews played on a screen. Inviting people, especially non-artists, to participate in my performances allows the concept to be influenced by diverse perspectives and connects with audiences in a unique way beyond the typical audience and artist.
Share how your artistic practice, processes, and activities generate positive social impact, addressing themes that may include, but are not limited to, race, diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or accessibility.
Being open to feedback, listening, and engaging with audiences is how I gauge the impact of my work. So when I receive a message like this in response to my most recent video piece it serves as my indicator of a successful and positive impact. Another of many examples was at the LA Art Show: while the video of “Diversity Walks and Talks” played following the main performance, a little boy, maybe eight, sat cross-legged in the middle of the red carpet and attentively watched each interview. This, to me, demonstrated the performance’s impact of fostering proactive forward thought and acceptance within our future generation.
The Miss Art World concept is a lifelong performance piece and, not performed by a singular performer, but shared by other artists through a broader movement. When I am Miss Art World, I am draped in the trappings of a beauty queen presenting somewhat of a counterintuitive connection to the performance’s message of inclusivity and positive social change. I have recruited Klaire Lockheart who’s artwork addresses gender identity and feminism within contemporary American culture as Miss Art World South Dakota, thus beginning a movement of creative queens, a family of like minds that can be found all over the world. Miss Art World is a vehicle for creative activism.
What relationships and engagement do you have with local and/or regional organizations and initiatives?
Motivated by social change and not monetary gains, I have shared my struggles, mission, and artwork throughout California. I have been honored to be a guest speaker for the Lancaster Rotary Club, Camarillo’s Spark Voice--a mentoring program for women and girls, multiple career days, Shoebox Projects, The Not Real Art Podcast, and for the DIVERSEartLA Talks.
Knowing the transformative power that arts education has in local communities through the efforts of non-profit arts organizations, I dedicated myself to the Los Angeles Art Association (LAAA) and Studio Channel Islands Art Center. Located in different counties, each organization has allowed me to connect with entirely new audiences as an artist member, donor, and volunteer.
At Studio Channel Islands I was a former artist-in-residence, art teacher for children’s summer camp, and guest lecturer for their shared partnership with California State Channel Islands University’s OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) educational program for ages fifty and above. I also started a mentorship program for high school students wanting to gain experience in the art world and was honored to receive the Business Champion Award from the Oxnard High School District.
Another way I foster relationships with organizations and community arts members is through the MissArtWorld Podcast, created to engage listeners at any art interest level and to promote organizations and artists. With over seventy-five episodes we have featured local artists and organizations like Laemmle Theatres, Art Share L.A., and Save Art Space in order to help promote their missions and goals.