I’m a connector. The one chatting with strangers when we’re all stuck waiting in a boring line and soon everyone is talking. My art connects people too. I create photographs and interactive installations about grief, joy, fear, ambivalence—the range of real human emotions and life experiences that we don’t talk about or express as easily after childhood.
I love making work with and for those of you who want to take off your mask sometimes, to see what happens when we are willing to be honest about who we are and how we feel.
Since I’m an extrovert, I realized a long time ago that making images alone in a garret just wasn’t going to work for me. I also believe that everyone can be creative and has a story to share. So for years I’ve been collaborating with the public as part of my practice—both online and off. My process is interdisciplinary and multi-stage, sort of like an art lab, only I work on questions about what it means to be human rather than about the material world.
To start, I throw out questions about topics ranging from new motherhood to loss, and invite people to share their stories and memories. Then I start experimenting, transforming those stories through photography, audio, writing, collage, drawing, sculpture, performance, and whatever other media and processes organically emerge. I often invite the public to play along with me, using what we all make as a foundation for the next stage of the work. I’m also repeatedly drawn to using metaphors of geography, travel and mapping to explore common life experiences and passages, which makes sense — since people often talk about life as a journey, why not see what happens when that journey is made literal through art?
For example, for my Greetings From Motherland projects I brought groups of new moms together to make art about the culture shock of that crazy transition, and together we asked ourselves questions about how we really felt to be in this new place we called “Motherland”. We answered those questions honestly through writing and photography, and used our real lives and feelings as raw material for lots of new artistic experiments. You can get a sense of my process in action by watching the film below of Good Eater, one of the Greetings From Motherland projects that focused on food and motherhood.
My work and art practice continues to grow and change, and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished with all of the ups and downs in my life as an artist over the years. If you’re curious about some of those official details, you can read my bio and CV, or some of my recent press.
Not surprisingly though, what's most meaningful to me are the relationships I form with people through the work; like the time I received an email from a woman after making a photograph in response to her grief story that said: “I can’t thank you enough, Mindy, for everything. The photograph is simply beautiful. But thank you also for listening, for being so deeply compassionate, for the effort you put in to track down irises during the completely wrong season to make the photograph possible. I am so completely moved I’m at a loss for how to express it. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”
Mapping our lives by taking the familiar and making it strange helps us see the world differently, ask new questions, and maybe makes things easier to talk about. There is beauty in being seen, in making art that connects us to ourselves and each other, that helps us all feel a little less alone.
If you feel the same way, join my community by adding your name to my email list. It’s the best way to keep up with what I’m doing, find out about opportunities to get involved in new projects, and hear about promotions and behind the scenes info that I don't share anywhere else. You can also join my Facebook group called Mapping Our Lives; I started it as a way to bring people together around some of the issues I raise in my work, as well as a place to discuss lifelong creativity.
Add your name below, and I promise I won't share your email with anyone. After you do, reach out and say hi! I can’t wait to meet you.
P.S. Watch the video below to get a little peek behind the scenes of the making of one of my projects, Good Eater. The documentary film short is called At the Table: Mothers Sharing Stories Through Art, and it was made by Brijetta Hall Waller. It debuted at the Wisconsin Film Festival in 2011.