four seasons

An Interview with Seren Moran

Berkeley, California native, Seren Moran, graduated from San Diego State University with a BA and will soon continue her studies to achieve an MFA.  With no formal training, she spent years collaging everything from furniture to walls.  She’s well-traveled and those experiences are represented in her work.

MamaProud: You sketch and paint.  Do you have a preferred style?

Seren Moran: Definitely, painting.  Really the only reason I sketch is to get warmed up, release thoughts and ideas, or when painting isn’t convenient. While I was traveling in Europe I filled several sketchbooks, but did far less painting.  It’s much cashier to carry a sketchbook than an easel and pallet.

MP: I took a look at your website.  The series on your father made an impression.  Does your personal life drive your work?

SM: Yes, almost entirely. My paintings are a direct reflection of my life, and there really isn’t any getting around that.  A professor (Janet Cooling) once told me that there is no use in worrying about having a “style” because you are your style, no matter what you paint or how you paint it, it will be your style.

But in response to my father series, the moments of my life filled with the most emotional intensity, both good and bad, are the moments that drive my work.  And my relationship with my father is one filled with intensity both exceptional and painful.

MP: What were your first attempts at being creative?

SM: I have been creative since I can remember.  My brother and I were constantly encouraged to express ourselves artistically from an early age.   My mother is an artist at heart and always gave us all kinds of materials and opportunities to be creative from drawing and painting, to collage, music, dance, and theatre.  My brother, Michael Moran, is also an artist, he is an actor, playwright, and director, currently living and working in Chicago.  It’s no coincidence we both chose artistic paths.  In some ways we bounce off of each other’s creativity.

MP: About your background, how did/does your family and Berkeley influence your creativity?

SM: Well, growing up in the Bay Area, I have constantly been exposed to all kinds of diversity, in ethnicity, religion, sexual preference, political and cultural views. The Bay Area is an especially innovative and creative place filled with educated and passionate people from all over the world.   It wasn’t until I moved away from the bay area that I realized how fortunate I was to have been exposed to such a large variety of experiences and people.

My mother has hosted over twenty exchange students from all over the world for the last ten years.  Living with people around the world, as well as my own experience living in Europe has certainly had an impact on both my artistic and life choices.  I am currently working on a very large painting composed of portraits of people in my life who were born in different countries.

MP: What are your artistic goals?

SM: Gosh, I feel like there are so many things I want to do, artistic and otherwise.  Mainly I want to keep painting…forever. I’m not interested in fame, but I do want to be appreciated.  The way I see it there are two parts to art, one in which the artwork is created, and one when the art is experienced by others.  So I do hope that not only will I continue to paint, but that people will continue to see my work.

I also have a love for teaching, I have been teaching children and teens for the past five years, and the more I teach the more I love it.  I plan on getting my MFA in the upcoming years, and hopefully becoming an Art Professor at some point later on.  But for now I’m mainly focused on improving myself as a painter.

MP: What are your inspirations?

SM: Chuck Close once said: “inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work, if you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lighting to strike you in the brain, you aren’t going to get a lot of work done.”  I think there is a lot of truth in what he’s saying. That isn’t to say that inspiration doesn’t exist, it most certainly does.  I have had moments where, as Chuck Close would say, the lightning strikes and clouds part, but those moments aren’t what keep me painting, those moments are the magical additions to the work I have already started.

MP: What is the greatest compliment you’ve received/greatest insult with regard to your work?

SM: That’s a difficult question, I’ve gotten a lot of both insults and compliments in regards to my work. I’m not sure if this is the worst or best thing someone has said about my work, but it’s what comes to mind.  Once when I was painting alone in the studio at the University a man walked in and looked at some of the paintings I was working on.  At that time, I was beginning to experiment with abstraction, doing the first really expressionist works I had ever done and I was pretty unsure about it, constantly trying to trust my intuition.  The man looked at them for several minutes and then said, “I don’t get it, what’s the point of this?  It just looks like a mess.”  Of course I had no idea how to answer, I myself didn’t even really know what the point was, and certainly didn’t know how to articulate it. The following week my professor, Gail Roberts, who had been very supportive of my choice to explore abstraction, asked how I was feeling about the new direction in my work.  I told her I was unsure and mentioned what the man said.  She laughed and said, “Seren, these painting are incredible and very difficult paintings to do.  As you continue painting, you will learn that you have to choose the people whose opinions matter and those who don’t.  And what I have learned is that the better you get as a painter, the smaller your audience gets.”


A Interview with Robert Servo

Robert Servo is an artist/musician based out of New York.  With an MFA in painting Robert’s work is exhibited regularly.

MamaProud: You paint and you’re a musician.  Are the two expressions connected?

Robert Servo: Very much so. For many years I was always either focusing on painting or writing and playing music. While I was in graduate school I decided I was going to combine both ways of thought to try push my overall vision. The result is the asymmetrical mixed media paintings that you can see on my site.

MP: How did Homespun Vector come about?

RS: Before I started graduate school I was in an instrumental group called The Kinde Trio that focused on playing a lot of improv. After six months of school I missed playing out and bouncing creative ideas of other musicians, so I started writing music on my own. Because of school I had no time for a band so I started picking up random musicians and friends for gigs. Playing with other musicians keeps it fresh and the sound morphing.

MP: I took a look at your site.  Your work comes across as surreal.  Do you ever get crazy interpretations of your work?

RS: I do – no one example that sticks out. Usually either people write my work off or they get really into it and tell me their version of the narratives I paint. The interactions I have with the people who really get into the work at shows is the greatest pay off.

MP: What were your first attempts at being creative?

RS: Drawing in my grandparent’s studio in Florida. My dad’s parents were painters from Brooklyn who both went to Pratt in the 40’s. Growing up they were always supportive.

MP: Do you still live in Brooklyn?  Does living in a place like Brooklyn (or being from there) influence your creativity?

RS: I moved from Brooklyn to Queens about 2 months ago. I had a live-work space in Brooklyn for two years.  I am moving my studio back as soon as I can. Queens is nice, but I have yet to find an art scene that compares to Bushwick Brooklyn.

MP: What are your artistic goals?

RS: To keep focusing on and making and showing more work. I also want start teaching at the college level again.

MP: What is the greatest compliment you’ve received/greatest insult with regard to your work?

RS: Someone told me I have a sick sense of Humor in response to a piece I showed at the Fountain Art Fair this year in New York.

I think the greatest insult I have ever received was at the same show.  My old boss who is also a performance artist bought one of my paintings. Then chainsawed it into pieces and hung it back on the wall for sale. After that day he never called me to come back to work.

An Interview with Colin Ruel

Colin Ruel is a man of few words.

MamaProud: What were your first attempts at being creative?

Colin Ruel: When I was a  young kid I used to make books of poems about ghosts and monsters with illustrations.

MP: What are your artistic goals?
CR:I want to make some big paintings
MP: What has been your most exciting moment as an artist?
CR: My first opening.
MP: Where is home and did it influence your creativity?
CR: I’m from a small Island.
MP: Was your family an influence as well?
CR: Yes. My Grandparents are artists.
MP: Does Brooklyn serve your artistic endeavors in any way?
CR: Yes. There are so many opportunities here to see new work and to share work
MP: The paintings (on your site) are of cool and dignified figures.  What was your motivation behind that series?
CR: I Just  felt like painting them, I don’t really know
MP: I really like the untitled painting of the two female figures.  Mostly because they are phantom-like and put a little fear in me.  Who are they?
CR: No one real, its done with coffee and spray paint
MP: Do you practice more than one artistic discipline?
CR: I’m also a musician.

Children’s Art Gallery

An online gallery was introduced to me last year.  It’s likely the largest art gallery for children featuring works from more than 100 countries.  Artsonia helps to integrate technology into a discipline that is very hands-on.

I use the gallery to feature my daughters drawings that are shared with family and friends – her fan club.  They post comments on the site that I can show my daughter.  It’s a definite confidence booster.

Not only are we featuring her art at home but family and friends thousands of miles away can participate, therefore taking an active role in my child’s art education.

You can also purchase any child’s art (that is made public), placing them on everything from cutting boards to mouse pads.  Because we don’t live near relatives the store is a great way for kitsch-loving grandparents to feature art at home.