Artist: MIA CHRISTOPHER
Artist Spotlight on the works of Mia Christopher
Nail polish, eye shadow, and glitter sound a lot like the things you might find in a makeup artist’s carrying case among other cosmetic accoutrement’s. But Bay Area artist Mia Christopher literally draws inspiration from these items and re-purposes them. Her raw blend of unorthodox materials—including Bhutan paper, plexiglass, and marble as canvases—speaks to her deliberate approach and desire to reinvent contemporary abstract art.
Reminiscent of the abstract expressionist, Christopher’s work stems from a wild and unapologetic approach to color and media. While the majority of her works seem whimsical, her calculated methods can be seen in her technique and careful consideration of color, placement, and size. Her free and experimental creative process reveals itself as one sifts through her digitized sketchbooks and selected works.
One of the many unique aspects of Christopher’s prolific drawings and sketches seems to be the way she views geometric shapes and incorporates free-form marking. She creates many tiny parts that seem to amass into a vivacious and spirited collection of work that any color theorists would envy. Her paintings take into account formal elements of art such as form, color, and composition. Yet through their simplicity, if one looks long enough, the combination of a wide array of paints such as latex, gouache, acrylic, and oil shows complex relationships within the swirls and blotches of paint.
Exploring various media and their interactions with other materials has proven advantageous in Christopher’s practice. Her artwork has inspired design work that translates to some stunning visual and wearable textiles in the form of clothing. Last year, Christopher was asked to collaborate with well-known women’s clothing company Anthropologie for a line of dresses, blouses, and jumpers. Her paintings “Compositional Stacking,” “Color Stripe,” and “Test Sheets” were incorporated into the making of the clothes. The collaboration was sparked by Anthropologie’s Made in Kind project, which seeks work from emerging artists and designers. The limited-edition clothing line serves as an extraordinary example of Christopher’s work translating well into fashion. It certainly fosters an appreciation for artists based in traditional media and the important symbiotic relationship between the visual arts and the fashion industry.
The process of working with Anthropologie and seeing her paintings as textiles, she shares, was both “thrilling” and “surreal.” “I loved noticing how marks I made on paper were now forming to shape people’s bodies. Seeing one of the dresses in the window of the Market Street [store] in Downtown San Francisco was unbelievable and wonderful. My brother sent me a photo from one of my dresses in the window of the Fifth Avenue store in New York. I never thought something I was a part of creating would be in a store window on Fifth Avenue! It was wild.”
The overall feel of Christopher’s work demands to be seen. You have to sit with it—visually absorb the colors and undulations of lines and splashes of color created by the artist’s hand. While her work and designs may look extraordinary on dresses and blouses, there is something undeniable and provocative about her work. It’s not just the way the viewer’s eyes can freely move along the spaced-out marks on the canvas, but also the paradoxical combination of visual simplicity and conceptual complexity.
Abstract works may not be for everyone, but after close examination, Christopher’s presents a rather convincing meditation on the impact of color and pattern. Looking intently at her works may provoke anyone with some nail polish, eye shadow, and a little bit of glitter a newfound appreciation for an artist’s visionary way of looking at the everyday to create something beautiful and simple.