Briefly describe the work you do.
I have questions that need answers. My artwork is me trying to figure out how to physically make some sort of answer. Right now I’m focused on the peculiar problem of people identifying southwest art with cowboys, cactus, and Native Americans dresses from two hundred years ago.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I think I’ve always seen things different. As a six year old I used to knock on strangers doors and ask to photograph their loving rooms. At eleven I spray painted a silver 16 x 16 square in a scrub Forest because I thought people hiking through would think it was magical. I was fearless with an over-active imagination born into a family that enjoyed combing through dumps, exploring caves; very unusual sites. My dad is a scientist who loved/loves to go to bazaar roadside attractions; alligator farms definitely proved memorable. My mother was and is a fabulous photographer. They both taught me to be curious about the ordinary.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
My studio practice, although I have a physical space, is largely in my head. I carry a note pad wherever I go or I’ll dictate through my phone. I have an office/laboratory/studio/dojo where I paint and perform tests.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I never really saw myself getting into instillation or video art. I became very passionate about both my last year of grad school.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
I’m actually a midday person I would start at 10 and go till about eight. Right now I’m creating on Sundays which is frankly not enough time for me but the reality is there are only so many hours in the day, and days in the week.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
My work dramatically changed in the last five years. I feel that it’s much more cohesive and achievable- not so pie-in-the-sky anymore.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
My family. I think my son, Shannon has had the largest impact on my life. He’s a fantastic person. My friends as well. I have some fantastic artist friends.
I don’t want to say there’s one single person that launched something. It’s been a series of moments. I remember standing in front of an Anselm Kiefer and bawling. I love listening to Debussy in Fall. That kind of hopeless romantic shit.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
If I has another occupation outside of an artist? I’ve been very fortunate in my life that I get to make art everywhere I go and whatever I do.
I work for High Road Ice Cream presently. Last week we made strawberry ice cream and as I evened out the pan the strawberry drug through fresh vanilla anglaise leaving tiny beautiful trails of seeds.
Mena Ganey is an American artist, currently living in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2009 she completed her BFA in painting at Arizona State University, and in 2013 completed her MFA at the University of Arizona. She works primarily in the realms of installation, painting, printmaking and video, and has exhibited throughout the United States. Mena’s work explores the systems, archives, and values ascribed through visual culture.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.