member of:Observers of the Interdependence of Domestic Objects and Their Influence on Everyday Life

This group has been active for a long time and has already made some remarkable assertions which render life simpler from the practical point of view. For example, I move a pot of green color five centimeters to the right, I push in the thumbtack beside the comb and if Mr. A (another adherent like me) at this moment puts his volume about bee-keeping beside a pattern for cutting out vests, I am sure to meet on the sidewalk of the avenida Madero a woman who intrigues me and whose origin and address I never could have known...
--Remedios Varo

(Slideshow is of Artwork by Remedios Varo)
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
--Franz Kafka

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mia Araujo

Mia was born and raised in L.A., and she graduated as valedictorian from LA's Otis College of Art and Design in 2007. She also recently won the "Shepard Fairey in DC" contest. For larger views of her work, go to
I recommend it, because there are hundreds of little details you don't want to miss.


"The Inventress"

When you go to her website and click on gallery, you will find thumbnails representing several shows her work has been featured in. If you click on the second one, "Overdose" Hi-Fructose Group Show, you will find the painting "The Inventress," which you click on to get a huge, browser-sized image. Then you can begin to see what I mean about the details. Just in her hair, there are princesses, marionettes, broken puppets, masks, the inner workings of a clock, a lamp, and a complex pair of eyeglasses much like Johnny Depp wore in Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow. A kidnapper runs off with his prize, up the thick, ropey branches of tree that seem to have developed as an extension of her chestnut hair. Beside her floats the head of a modern, handsome Frankenstein, being polished by a little man hidden in the hair just behind her ear. Snow white owls fly by, and Dracula looks on from a corner seemingly pulled from an old German Expressionist era movie. And that's just the top of the painting, there's another entire world down below, in the waters reaching up to her chest. I imagine her to be creating these worlds, populating the earth with the figures and creatures of her imagination and dreams.

She gives some background on the above piece on her blog (
"This painting started off being based on the Tales of Hoffman, and in fact E.T.A. Hoffman’s literature in general. For those of you who’ve not heard of him, he is most famous for writing the Nutcracker, and most of his stories also deal with inanimate, often mechanical objects coming to life in a fantastical way. They are macabre fairy tales written in a time where Romanticism ended and the Enlightenment began, so there is always tension between the imagination and reason. There is also a fragmentary nature to the Tales of Hoffman in the many interwoven narratives, and a gothic influence through which his characters are tormented on their paths to happiness. I tried to give a sense of all this in the piece.

Interestingly for me, I noticed many parallels in these stories with the way in which my mind works during the creative process. At first glance in my mind’s eye, it appears that I have dozens of ideas vying for attention, but upon closer inspection I find that some of these are half –finished, missing an arm or a leg like some of the creatures in this piece…there are also thoughts that frighten or torment me, as well as beautiful thoughts that inspire and excite me, and these coexist side by side, creating a dynamic habitat for my new piece to be born in. Again, I wanted the objects and characters in this piece to reflect this.

Finally, it just so happens that my mind is a constant battlefield for my intellectual side and my imagination to jostle upon, much like the stuff in Hoffman’s stories…plus I couldn’t resist throwing in some of the ‘30s horror film imagery that I love so much, alongside the fanciful whimsical stuff to portray the sinister, gothic aspects of Hoffman, that lurk beneath the light-hearted magic."

On her website, it states: "Mia believes that all individuals contain an entire universe within them. Her recent work strives to represent the unseen forces at work within the subject--spirits, inner demons, conflicting emotions, and the imaginations."


"Needles in a Haystack"

In an interview with Arrested Motion, she says: "Lately a lot of my pieces have been based on well-known stories...and I usually have another theme that I'm trying to get across by using those stories...sleeping/dreaming, imagination, death/rebirth of the inner self. I start conceptualizing by making a list of words and imagery that inspire me and then fixate on one mental image for the whole piece which I will sketch out...I work out the figure first, and then start drawing out the mini-narrative characters into the composition in whichever way they flow. So there is a spontaneity to it. Sometimes I'll want to include a sphinx or an apatosaurus, say, but if it doesn't work anywhere in the piece, then I won't use it. Each piece has mysteries even to me, and new meanings arise from the different elements than I intended."

Mia makes the blueprint for her work on tracing paper and transfers it with chalk-carbon paper onto a maple panel. She paints with acrylics. Her favorite color is Naphthol Crimson, because it "plays well with others."


"Across the Nile" (another one that MUST be viewed large)

"The view outside my [studio] window is an amazing eucalyptus forest, with hundreds of monarch butterflies in the wintertime. There is also a red-tailed hawk nest and I can see the birds take flight without having to get up from my chair. It’s absolutely unbelievable."


"One of my three main pieces for my senior thesis on solitude. Each character embodies different aspects of how solitude is positive and important for the personal development of an individual.
This is Gill, and she represents self-discovery and exploration:"
Gill has made a little fishbowl through which all her limbs come out to wrap protectively around it. Her neck pulls up out of the back and her head enters the bowl. The fishbowl, that little bit of the world we see in our lives, and also a separate place, safe and secure, though clear enough to see out of into the distance... On the other hand, where all the others around her carry umbrellas, she has captured the water and dives into it, makes it a part of herself.


"Anatomy of a Somnambulist"

Mia says: "Submerged in sleep, a somnambulist that has been sleep-walking for years, and whose dreamscapes have created a habitat about her."



Though the dreamcatcher is a Native American--especially Ojibwa-- tradition, made to capture the darker forces that enter the air at night to infuse your wandering soul with fear, this painting struck me as having a sort of Mexican Day of the Dead flavor, where two fearful things, Death and Separation, are overcome in a big, colorful party where you and your lost loved ones can once again connect, converse, and share a meal. Note the skeletal rabbit-type playing violin in the lower right corner, the vivid fortune-teller red of the somnambulist's hair, the flowers she arises from, the hybrid log-cutter, and the disembodied merry-go-round.

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