Luis Mejico – Chicago, Illinois

Title: ForMe:ShajairaL Medium: Performance Size: Dimensionsvariable Year: 2014

Title: For Me: Shajaira L
Medium: Performance
Size: Dimensions variable
Year: 2014

Briefly describe the work you do.

I work primarily in performance art, and very often my work includes the involvement of the public. My interest in challenging the binary between artist and audience stems from a desire to unite individuals through artwork, by using my projects as platforms for collaboration with other people. My current largest project, “For Me / For You”, asks audiences to send in submissions of any form (poetry, prose, images, videos, songs, lists of words, sets of actions, scripts, and so on) that I then translate into performance work. I produce a work that is a combination of the artistic language of the submission and my own language. At the root of my practice is the desire to produce a reciprocal expression of my and my audience’s interests through the intimate act of exchange.
 
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I didn’t have a traumatic, lonely, or otherwise interesting childhood. I am an artist because I seek to communicate with others. I use art as a tool for collaboration and creation; my works serve as platforms for myself and another to develop something collaboratively, through the blending of the submission and of myself. This blending, this conversation leads to a finished artwork that is just as much my creation as it is the creation of the person who sent in the submission.I think that the reason I find art a worthwhile pursuit is that it is often a tool for discussion. I think that something very interesting happens when an artwork and a spectator meet. The artwork is, in some ways, always reflective of the artist’s interests, desires, experiments, and so on. It is a glimpse at the history of the maker. Likewise, the spectator comes upon the work with their own history. It is when these two histories meet, when the spectator generates a critique on the work, that the artwork serves as a tool for communication – from the mind of the artist, to the mind of the audience. What happens when these two histories meet? What discussion is born out of that touch? My work explores this idea of a mixed history through it’s generation, so that the end product becomes a physical translation of the conversation myself and the public had.
 
Title: ForYou:Eschar Medium: Performance Size: Dimensionsvariable Year: 2014

Title: For You: Eschar
Medium: Performance
Size: Dimensions variable
Year: 2014

 

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” is effectively my phone, my laptop, my sketchbook. The development of my practice is far removed from the romanticized artist’s studio, and I imagine this to be true of many contemporary artists. I think that the majority of my work is developed by taking notes on my phone or sketchbook of things that I am interested in, and then workshopping performances in my living room using my computer’s camera.I think that all things feed into an art practice – yes, it’s the museums you go to, and the work you look at, but it’s also posts on Facebook, your feed on Instagram, and so on. I think artists have been expanding out of the studio into the “outside,” non-art world for decades now. I believe that many artists, myself included, are now making their practice in a more “virtual” or non-physical setting. Sketchbooks and laptops are effectively the same thing – technologies for storing and looking at visual and/or textual information. The contemporary studio, at least mine, exists mostly in journals, sketchbooks, notes, texts, image posts, etc., and takes up very little physical space. The only time my work is ever brought out into the physical world is when I’m workshopping movements or building objects (this is done in whatever room I have remaining in my apartment: typically a 5’x5’ living room, or a 4’x4’ kitchen, depending on what I’m making). I’m not saying that non-physical artist studios are replacing physical ones, but I do think that contemporary makers use a blend of the two in their creation of artwork.

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 honestly never anticipated the amount of reading I would be doing! I think that school has really disciplined me into keeping a theoretical and research background in my work, and to continue to look at other artists while reading contemporary theory. It’s a blessing. I read a lot when I was a kid but some time during my teens I lost interest in books. It’s been a slow start, but I’ve rediscovered my love for reading, both for work and for pleasure. Artists are scholars too, and in reading about the work and processes of others, I am given glimpses into myself as a maker. Art history is so interesting and so compelling, and there is so much to learn. I think my desire for learning is reflected by the way my art is made. In the same way that my work is a conversation between myself and other, I want to be engaged in the current (interesting) conversations going on in the art world. That’s very exciting for me.

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 find that I am almost always, in some way, working. I have the blessing of attending art school, with class projects keeping me very busy. Any time that I don’t spend in school, I’m either working on a project, sketching, reading, looking at the work of others, writing, and so on. I have a manic drive to immerse myself in my work because I feel like it is all I really have, or at least, all I really want. I obviously make time to relax; this manifests itself in seeing friends, spending time with family, and so on. The brain is muscle and you need to give it a break too. But I genuinely enjoy the speed at which all things come. I keep myself on my feet in terms of my practice because I know I have to keep moving in order to grow.

Title: ForYou:WeTried Medium: Performance Size: Dimensionsvariable Year: 2014

Title: For You: We Tried
Medium: Performance
Size: Dimensions variable
Year: 2014

How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?

It’s funny, I worked exclusively in sculpture up until two years ago. Something I liked about sculpture was the physical presence of work, the way it occupies space in the same way that bodies do. But my frustration came out of the finality, the “object-ness” of sculpture. My work felt too finished, too finite, too limited in many respects. I changed my medium to performance because of it’s immediacy, the live-ness of the present body. There’s much more excitement for me in orchestrating and organizing performance because I find performance so immensely malleable, and communicates message to an audience with the body, a medium that any audience member can know and recognize. I think performance, like any medium, has it’s own set of complications. But having started working in this way, I don’t know how I can possibly go back.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
I think that the biggest impact on me has always come from my educators. In college and in high school, my career has only ever grown and maintained itself because of the mentors I have come to know and respect. I look at teachers as some of the most valuable and dedicated workers in our world. Education is key to any individual because it can provide a framework for one to discover and play with the world around them. A good educator encourages failure as much as they do success, and the instructors I’ve had the fortune of learning from have always reminded me of this. Experimentation, along with it’s successes and failures, is key to growth.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
Ideally, I would like to be a working artist, critic, curator, and a college-level instructor in the future. However, if I had to pick a single career outside of the art climate entirely, I would really enjoy being an entomologist, possibly specializing in the study of beetles. I think that insects are extremely fascinating and beautiful creatures, and I would love to learn more about them. They’re a little gross, sure, but they’re one of the most diverse groups of animals on the planet, and represent over half of all current living organisms. Insects are very successful creatures in terms of survival and adaptation, and I think we could all take a tip or two from them.

About

LuisMejico_HeadshotLuis Mejico is an artist based in Chicago. Attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on the Walter Massey Full Tuition Merit Scholarship, he works in performance and sculpture. He has performed and exhibited work at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago, Links Hall, Zhou Brothers Art Center, The Oak Park Art League, Water Street Studios, Openlands Lakeshore Preserve, Things are Better in Space Gallery, Student Union Galleries at SAIC, THE WALK Fashion Festival at SAIC, ARTBASH 2014 at SAIC, and Marwen Art Gallery, among others. He is currently seeking his BFA at SAIC (2017).

LuisMejicoInStudio
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.  
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About 365Artists/365Days

The purpose of this project is to introduce its readership to a diverse collection of art that is being produced at the national and international level. Our goal is to engage the public with information regarding a wide array of creative processes, and present the successes and failures that artists face from day to day. The collaborators hope that this project will become a source for exploring and experiencing contemporary art in all its forms.
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