I'm holding a porcelain mug by Mimi Logothetis in my hands, and am looking closely. Every surface of this mug is covered with a collage of cut-out black and white images: a black crow, an eye, clippings from an encyclopedia entry, a map of Paris, and some sort of mechanical diagram... or maybe it's a sewing pattern? I can feel the faint impressions of the edges of each image where it was pressed into the wet porcelain slab. The next thing I notice are the seams, where two pieces of slab are joined together to make the vessel; it's utilitarian and beautiful.
Mimi works out of a studio she built within walking distance to her home in Cedar Grove, NC. She studied ceramics from Tyler School of Art, and has since exhibited in various juried exhibitions and at Blue Spiral 1, Asheville, NC; Frank Gallery, Chapel Hill, NC; Lee Hansley Gallery, Raleigh, NC; the Clay Studio, Philadelphia, PA; The Asher Gallery, Houston, TX; and The Ogden Museum, New Orleans, LA.
Read more about the artist, in her own words:
I have always thought of myself as an artist, from my earliest memories. I have always made things with my hands stemming from my imagination and comfort in solitude. My mother was my first true mentor in understanding that what I made and worked for was of value, that sitting around and watching TV was worthless and that there was never a reason or an excuse to be bored. She taught me about growing vegetables, making our own yogurt and whole wheat bread and building a bitchin’ compost pile to feed the fig tree in NJ. We painted with oils, we refinished furniture, we went to the art museum, we lay in the grass and looked at the clouds, we drew, sculpted and sewed our own clothes. We had no money, so everything we had was of value because of sweat equity and sentimentality and functionality. These values are what I bring to my art today, functionality, originality of voice and message. I received my BFA from Tyler School of Art, after spending many years not in school, working, living and figuring out how best to live my life. I studied under two great professors, Nick Kripal and Bob Winokur, and was immersed in a creative community, many of whom I still call friends.
What’s your professional or personal goal as an artist?
I am always striving to better my skills and be able to more thoughtfully and clearly communicate my message in my work. Whether it is functional or sculptural or wearable, I hope to communicate the ideas and emotions of my experience in this life, whether easy and comfortable or difficult and complicated, the big emotions, as Rothko tried to communicate through his big color fields. I am passionate about environmental and political issues, I live in an historic house I personally renovated and wired to be off grid on solar panels to align with my energy conservation and politically independent leanings. I recently built a new, energy efficient studio building, also powered by solar panels for electricity and with a collector for solar hot water. I believe the way I live is an artistic choice, one that informs my work and my imprint on the earth.
Describe the perfect day in your studio.
My perfect day begins with a good strong cup of coffee, around 7 am, in a hand made cup, preferably. I like to read the New York Times, drink my coffee and then feed the dogs. Ideally, I get a run in, this is my meditation and the time I take to sort my thoughts and plan my day. In the studio from there, it all depends on what I’ve started. Since porcelain is my medium, it all depends on what needs my attention. Porcelain waits for no one. If I am beginning a hand building project, especially a thin light fixture, I need a full day to plan and roll out the appropriate pieces in order to decorate them and assemble them properly. Otherwise, it could be a day of throwing forms, or adding handles or trimming. There are only so many projects to work on at one time since porcelain is finicky and can dry quickly, thereby ruining your chances to manipulate it. It tells me when we can work together.
Describe one time when you’ve felt particularly moved by a work of art.
Most recently, I saw Frida Kahlo’s first self-portrait that I saw at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It was included in an exhibit of Mexican Revolutionary Art, and it is exquisite. It is a very static but emotionally charged portrait, only hinting at the expressiveness she would achieve later on in her paintings, but it is so charged and beautiful, it made me weep instantly. It felt so visceral to stand and cry in front of a painting in a room full of people, strangers, who I would never see again. It was a moment of complete isolation, one that I feel mirrors Kahlo’s emotional state and feelings about her world. My other most emotional experiences: encountering the Nike of Samothrace in the Louvre and spending time at The Parthenon in Athens and other similar ancient ruins in Crete and Turkey. Since my family is Greek, half from modern day Turkey, I see a lot of myself and my ancestry in the depictions of the people of these civilizations and it reflects on my work.
Any good advice?
Just keep working, making, no matter what anyone says, negatively or approvingly, of your work.
Thanks for sharing Mimi!