We had the good fortune of connecting with Mia Liana Garcia and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mia Liana, what makes you happy? Why?
Feeling loved, chocolate chip cookies with frosting, learning about animals, hanging out with my brothers, open windows, sunburn, blankets, when something is so funny I can’t stop laughing for like 10 minutes, the smell of corn tortillas, drinking in the great outdoors, faces on things that shouldn’t have faces, and feeling proud of something I made. I think these things make me happy because they make me feel warm, comfortable, and like myself.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
While my work may not always look academic on the surface, most of it originates in the sciences – biology, anthropology, psychology, and medicine specifically. A couple years ago I created a religion that was founded on and centers a belief in evolution. In its iconography, humans, angels, and the god figure were depicted as apes and monkeys. Recently, I’ve been making works depicting myself as a little red monkey. Her friends (a ghost, a flower, an alien, and a demon) are personifications of the different facets of schizoaffective disorder. Little monkey is what I’m most excited about at the moment. Sometimes it’s hard for me to see myself as a professional, and I suppose that’s because I feel like all I had to do to get here was come up with the ideas and give physical form to them. The hardest part has been not having the financial means to work with the materials and technology that I would like to, and there’s really no way around that besides just working with what you have. My favorite lesson I’ve learned, though, is that you don’t need hours of labor, a well thought out statement, or high quality materials for a piece to have value. Quick, cheap, and impulsive is a perfectly valid way to work. If there’s anything I want the world to know about me it’s that I’m an animal just like you.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well I’m not from Atlanta… but if my friend was visiting Nashville we would go to Greenhouse Bar, Pfunky Griddle, Elephant Gallery, Arnold’s, Basement East, McKay’s, Gabby’s Burgers, Melrose Billiards, Aroma G’s Botanica, Belcourt Theatre, Love Circle, The Frist, Birrieria y Taquería Arandas, Cheekwood, and Percy Warner Park or Radnor Lake. Of course there’s so much more to do than that, but those are some favorites. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I gotta give a shout out to Mark Bradley-Shoup. Mark worked with me through my thesis at UTC and was supportive of all the little things that allowed my practice to continue in a direction that I’m pretty happy with. Mark, thank you for talking with me about music, cartoons, and other influences I was not normally comfortable discussing in an academic setting. Thank you for amping me up on “the cute little monkeys” and asking “why not 100 commandments?” when I was writing the religion I still try to hold myself accountable to. Thank you for keeping thy sense of humor. Thank you for supporting my nonsense. Thank you for being just genuinely a pretty cool dude. Creating is pressure-free for me now thanks to your mentorship, and the little monkeys live on.