Tori Miener

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Exchanges with Tori Miener

  1. Where are you from and how does it affect your work?

I’ve spent most of my life in the midwest, born and raised in St. Louis. Truthfully my work has been mostly impacted by my travels abroad particularly Thailand and other places in East Asia. I guess one could argue that my work is an escape from where I live. As I’ve really never felt like Iv’e fit into or belonged in the midwest. The feelings or warmth I try to capture in my work is strongly driven by my time overseas. But now that I’ve been landlocked for quite some time, I’ve been collecting a lot of seed pods and other found objects from local plants around where I live as inspiration for textures and forms.

  1. What lead you into working with ceramics?

Growing up I had a lot of opportunities to explore art. My older brother is honestly the person who inspired me to pursue being an artist from a young age. Having that drive early on, lead me to take every art class I could while in school. Looking back, I was always most excited or happy when I got to play with clay. It wasn’t until high school though, when I took my first clay class and got behind a wheel that I became hooked. You could say that was when I caught the clay bug! In all seriousness though, I think I’ve always loved clay from a young age. I feel intuition lead me to pursue it, as it became more and more meaningful to me. The more I learned about the medium and got involved with the clay community. I felt like I’d finally found my home. My group of ceramic friends from college, they’re my ceramily. I think that’s truly what made me love ceramics so much. The community behind the medium.

  1. How do you manage a work-life balance as an artist?

Honestly… At the moment it’s quite tough. Given the pandemic, there was about a two year gap where I couldn’t make or finish any ceramic work. I’m currently easing back into things as I prepare for a show that was postponed due to the pandemic. But it’s definitely hard juggling multiple jobs and keeping a consistent art practice. Luckily I’m beginning to get closer to having a better work, studio, and life balance.

  1. How do you transfer the skills you have gained from teaching a stained glass jewelry course into your own artistic practice?

Although I haven’t gotten to implement my ideas yet, I’ve been drawing up some ceramic jewelry designs which I plan to apply my stained glass jewelry techniques into. I would also love to eventually create sculptures with stained glass and bead working mixed in. As I mentioned, I’m still easing my way back in. So in due time, I hope to have some results to share.

  1. Describe your experience creating functional or decorative objects by hand, using a variety of methods and materials.

As an artist you could say I “wear many hats”,  and I really value as an artist being well versed in multiple materials or techniques. It creates an almost limitless well of options to create work by any mediums necessary. So if I discover I can’t make something work in clay I can use another medium that suits the idea more. I’ve also been working towards doing more mixed media work these days. As that can add another layer of complexity and excitement to my work.

  1. Tell me about a recent experience you’ve had working with your hands.

For some reason this question makes me think of how I cut apples every day for the kids (and their mom haha) that I nanny. It’s rather calming and fun I musrt admit. I cut them perfectly thin which is very satisfying, but I also create fun little patterns out of the apples. I like to think of it as a way to keep my hands dexterous when I’m not making work, in addition with keeping the right side of my brain active. Most importantly though, it’s a simple yet caring getsure to the family that I take care of. They’ve really taken care of me through the pandemic and it’s one of the more lowkey ways I show them my gratitude and love.

  1. How often do you research craft trends, venues, and customer buying patterns in order to inspire designs and marketing strategies?

I’ve only recently started delving into researching trends, buying patterns and marketing strategies. This past year I began working at Craft Alliance as a gallery shop attendant and the position has been a wonderful opportunity to learn about these things in a hands on way.

  1. Tell me how you develop concepts or creative ideas for your artwork.

I do some sketching to come up with forms, but the textural elements are more intuitive. A majority of my concepts comes from my everyday life experiences and travels.

  1. Describe the best piece of art you’ve created.

Oph that’s a hard one… I feel like I’m being asked to pick a favorite child! Haha If I really had to choose though, I feel that my Amygdala wall mounted pieces are the best example. It took myself and my friend Joseph Ovalle to bring these pieces to life. This piece consists of two large, wall mounted sculptures. They’re set into metal armatures like stones and they’re very organic. They’re shaped like seed pods, have characteristics of dried cactus husks, and are partially covered in carved barnacles. So it really is a mash up of my favorite things from all the places I’ve traveled. It was also hands down the strongest piece in my BFA show.

  1. How has your education helped you in your career?

I honestly can’t find the words to express how much my education at SIUE helped push my work to it’s current level, I certainly wouldn’t be the artist I am today without my experiences and learning opportunities I gained while there. Truthfully though, I have to give credit to Kodi Thompson, Mark Arnold, Andrew Koester, and Brad Brewer. Those goofballs pushed me everyday and taught me so much. I’ll always be grateful for the knowlege they passed onto me. 

  1. How would you define the style of your work and how did it develop?

The work I create has been described as biomorphic, organic, and even Studio Ghibli inspired (the last one is a stretch but I’ll take it. haha) If I had to define my work though, I’d say that I make “organic motifs” inspired by my personal environment as I go about my daily life. To give you an idea of where style stems from Here’s a snip from my artist statement: 

My inspirations for form derives from landscapes I explored in East Asia, Sicily, the Midwest, and the deserts of Arizona. The textures consist largely of found objects discovered during my travels. These objects, now tools, are mementos that I encounter in my daily life, relics that have become a crucial part of the making process. Used as stamps: they are pressed, stabbed, or slashed into the clay to create a memory of the object, an echo of  one’s own consciousness and past impressions. 

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