Miranda Pikul is currently earning her BA at the University of California, Los Angeles in studio art. Her focus explores the psychology of behavior while asking questions about mental health and human’s need for connection. Miranda’s work has been exhibited in galleries such as The Wonderstone and Back-Fence Society. Recent group exhibitions include, Without Long Goodbyes and How to Reinvent the World we Live in.
Themes eased through my work stumble upon how relationships with family, partners and strangers are far from perfect. I use vibrancy to keep emotion at the forefront of discussion as color influences our perception and weaves through cultures, finding common ground. This objective explores how viewers respond drastically when particular colors are laid next to each other. Overstimulation and anxiety are feelings I present through visual cues by interpreting human behavior and focus on how isolation is impacting the health of relationships today.
When did you first begin creating art?
In smaller towns, having a flair for the arts at a young age places a label on you; you’re the art kid now. But looking back I wasn’t making anything remarkably amazing in my youth. Sure, there were the drawings of my sleepy English teacher because I couldn’t sit still in class or portraits of famous rappers I would gift to friends. I think my first real encounter with creating anything noteworthy was at a summer camp away from the academic setting in an illustration class. I remember drawing an enormous portrait of my grandmother and great aunt. But this wasn’t classic portraiture, there was something animated and yet simultaneously disturbing about their personalities. I made something familiar, but it was no longer an exact replica of a photo, it was art. There was a mystery to that process at first, one I felt compelled to keep exploring. That’s when it all began to feel very intuitive for me, like I was supposed to be doing this thing, even though it also felt somewhat questionable at the time.
When did you first consider yourself to be an artist?
Somewhere in high school I stubbornly convinced myself I was going to be a tattoo artist, which I actually pursued but, to be honest, failed somewhat despite the opportunity. I was stuck working at a Panera Bread after high school because I didn’t make plans to go to college right away. Despite this being a very dark time, it led me to find my passion for painting, a medium I hadn’t been exposed to prior and one that sparked my curiosity. I was now making art for me because I needed to, without art I felt completely aimless. After understanding that creation was essential for my mental wellness, it was without a doubt this had become something I was going to do for the rest of my life. Once you realize that being an artist is not necessarily a career but a lifelong journey, it becomes easy to find a freedom in calling yourself an artist.
Who or what influences your practice?
My practice is often influenced by my own experiences and observations. I focus on asking questions that examine how loneliness influences our ability to maintain and build meaningful connections in the modern world. As someone who has had to move quite often, you began to notice how increasingly difficult it becomes to befriend people as you grow older. So, my practice has become very focused on capturing these moments of anxiousness in these interactions between strangers, family, and friends. Humans have this innate need for intimate connection, but we have created a society that fuels social anxiety. My work has been greatly influenced by my own struggles with communication and mental health in regard to learning how to live with anxiety and depression. Despite exploring very serious and sensitive topics, I do try to keep humor at the forefront of the narrative. I think sometimes it can be a good thing to learn how to laugh at the ridiculousness of being alive and the awkwardness of human interaction.
Tell us about a specific moment in your career that you would consider a turning point.
Before I really committed to art school, I had been dedicating a ton of time to craft shows and art fairs. I felt like it was a good way to get my work out there because the idea of showing in a gallery space felt very intimidating. Around the same time, I was also a volunteer at a non-profit art space in Vista called Backfence Society. I remember being granted the opportunity to have my own solo show exhibition there and I think that really pushed me creatively in a way I never felt when doing craft fairs. I was lucky enough at a young age to realize that as an artist you sometimes have to go out there and create your own opportunities and being able to show my work in such a safe place for the first time was incredibility rewarding. That moment was a turning point because I was able to witness people interact and respond to my work, which was important as it was also my first time being openly vulnerable about my mental health.
Where would you like to see your artwork go in the future?
So far this year I have already seen so much growth in my work that I’m very proud of. I felt very stagnant for a while during most of the pandemic so it’s nice to witness something possibly beautiful come out of such a dark time. In the future, I hope to keep pushing the boundaries of creation with painting and the concepts behind my figurative works. Although I am still exploring topics in relation to mental health, I think I am at a new turning point where I will be focusing on how we can reshape the way we view addiction in our society and separate the person from the disease. My aim is also to look at addiction further through all forms, such as technological advancement, and attempt to understand how this relates to humanity’s need for connection. So, I am actually very excited to see what happens as I explore these topics more going forward.