Briefly describe the work you do.
I seek out the emotional liminal space of my hyphenated Greek-American identity through the production of objects, performance, and sound.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
I was raised in a very traditional Greek-American household. Growing up, I had to attend Greek language school for 8 years outside of “American school,” dance in a Greek folk troop, while being an active participant in my local Greek Orthodox Church. In contrast, much of my early adulthood was spent working at tattoo parlors and listening to heavier music like metal and hardcore. Struggling to live the life of a “good Greek girl” like my family expects of me, but having aggressive interests that oppose the fundamental tenets of my upbringing, has led to a lot of tension in my personal life. In my earlier works, I was using a lot of symbols from both American and Greek culture to create coded works on identity. Since then, I have transitioned into using materials like hog gut (pig intestines) to represent these themes of emotional conflict without having to rely solely on imagery. I also draw influence from the theatrical stage shows of bands I listen to (particularly within Black and Doom metal), as well as their movements as musicians, to influence my own performative works and sound pieces.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
I think my studio environment is fairly common for a young artist in that it has been in constant flux over the years. During periods of schooling, I’ve had the most luxurious spaces in which to make, and oftentimes, the works made during those periods were large in scale. I have had an extra bedroom in my house be utilized as a studio space; I’ve stuck a giant worktable in my kitchen instead of a dining room table; in more cramped environments, I’ve only had my bedroom, coffee table, or couch. Work that is portable such as embroidery, as well as non-object works, tend to be made during those cramped periods.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?Artist as PR machine.When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
I feel most focused at night, but I do not regiment my making to any specific times. My schedule changes almost daily, so my making habits change with it.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
Visually, my work has changed greatly: I started out making very traditional looking fiber works like screen-printing hand drawn repeat patterns onto fabric yardage. With graduate school came an intense period of experimentation. I began hand-tattooing fruit, and working with hog gut — then performance and video were thrown into the mix. My most recent works have been sound pieces that I have made with the help of a theremin. I believe the work has stayed the same conceptually, even though I am trying to evolve in that area. I’ve been trying to make my work less about Greek v. American, and more about the emotions one may face when experiencing identity conflicts; however, I believe I have failed at this so far, and the work still looks like one identity trying to take over the other.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
The people around me have greatly influenced my work, as I tend to make work that relates to the various social groups I associate with. Musical artists and bands possibly influence me in a greater way than visual artists do. Doom metal bands especially: I study their movements as performers, and have found a correlation between the slow repetitive music they make and hand processes used within fiber, which is a great inspiration to me.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
Making art and being an artist has always been my primary pursuit. Other paths I have taken still relate to art: working for tattoo artists in Phoenix, being an artist assistant on the Southside of Chicago, doing custom framing in Austin, and now I’m back in Phoenix teaching fibers at Arizona State University. I do really enjoy teaching art at the college level and hope to continue that pursuit. I am really inspired by the energy and creativity that occurs when students are experimenting (and sometimes failing) while seeking out their voices as artists. I feel that the most exciting work happens during those periods of risk taking, so I am happy to be a part of that energy and help guide students to make work they are enthusiastic about.
Kristen Miologos is a fiber and performance artist who seeks harmonious-hybridization within her Greek-American identity. Through the use of ritualized gesture, she searches for similarities within her polarized worlds. She holds an MFA in Fiber from Cranbrook Academy of Art and an undergraduate degree in Fibers from Arizona State University. Kristen is currently a Faculty Associate in Fibers at Arizona State University, and splits her time between Phoenix, AZ and Austin, TX.