Artist Conversation #1

CSULB graduate Mimi Haddon is working toward her MFA degree in the School of Art’s Fiber Art Program. She graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 1994 with a Bachelor’s degree in graphic design. After graduating with her Bachelor’s, her artwork was featured on Santa Monica’s TAP cards for their new Metro station. Her art piece was created in 2012 and was called “Saint Monica” to represent the city of Santa Monica. She started her artistic career with graphic design and then became a photographer before returning to CSULB for her masters.  Mimi’s current piece, displayed on campus, is inspired by how the indigenous people use “scrape” materials to make art or tools and it made Mimi think about how she can be creative with the materials from her native culture.

On the wall of Mimi’s exhibit, she has a bio as well as the idea behind her work. She explains her idea behind the choice of fabric by saying, “I didn’t have to look far to realize the ubiquitous T-shirt could fit my parameters. How many times have I volunteered for a certain event or sent my children to camp, only to end up with a T-shirt that I pack up to Goodwill after one or two-time use. It became clear to me that this textile that shows up everywhere from the garment district in downtown LA to luxurious boutiques on Rodeo Drive, seems to represent the disposable or ‘fast fashion’ culture that has consumed us.” She then explains how she only had to look so far into her closet and at the nearest Goodwill for her materials. She wanted a “fresh eye” on the worn T-shirts so she would cut and organize them in a manner that would enable her to “utilize [her] materials in a re-formed raw state.”

While interviewing Mimi, she explained that “balloon-like” display along the wall. She was inspired by a photo she took on Santa Monica pier of an arcade game where people throw darts at balloons. What caught her attention was how all the balloons were deflated and drooping against the wall. She was inspired to recreate the photo with T-shirts in order to convey the feeling of being defeated or “deflated.” Another piece on the floor was meant to represent a map and the view from above. Mimi explained how she was inspired to utilize color into her art. She said that, “as an artist who is fascinated by color and the Interaction of Color as taught by Joseph Albers, I see this material as having endless potential to bring color to life in the form of large swaths or tiny cuttings.” Lastly, she explains how she is “interested in soft structure” and how she is proud to be able to a “collaborator” with her material and “offer the lessons of the vibrancy that a seemingly inactive object can take on when the space allows for that voice to be heard.”

Originally, I was not particularly inspired by Mimi’s visually appealing piece but now being able to understand the backstory, I greatly enjoy the heart and thought that went into each piece. I especially love the “deflated” balloon piece because as a college student working 2 jobs and still wanting a vibrant social life, it happens often so I found it relatable on multiple levels and it brought a human experience to life through inactive objects, which was incredibly smart.




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