A Narrative and a Punchline: An Interview with Artist Jay Miriam

May 28, 2014 • Culture

Looking at today’s contemporary art world as an “old masters aficionado,” some may say there are missing pieces that could be attributed to a differing appreciation for materials and technique or differing justifications. Jay Miriam represents and questions the contemporary art world through her insistence and appreciation of technique and materials. Only 24, her insight reads a wealth of knowledge. She recently closed a group show at Ornis A. Gallery in Amsterdam and I was able to catch up with her during this busy time in a casual, e-mailed chat (mostly in lower-case).

Becky Elmquist: You recently closed a group exhibition at Ornis A. Gallery in Amsterdam. Tell us a bit about the show as well as the gallery.

Jay Miriam: the exhibit, titled “First Blossom,” was a group show of young painters throughout europe and america. i exhibited 2 paintings alongside Anna Navasardian (1988, Armenia), Alle Jong (1988, The Netherlands), Inge Aanstoot (1987, The Netherlands) and Mirjam Jacob (1983, Germany). it mimicked another event called “First Blossom” in europe 25 years ago where galleries promoted the work of emerging artists. 

BE: You often collaborate with your boyfriend, Zev RectorHow does this dynamic align with your work?

JM: zev and i have been working together for almost 6 years! ha ha ha, he taught me how to put hot sauce on pizza and i think the same goes for my painting. working with another painter teaches you how to paint outside of your comfort zone — it’s good to have a friend who can look at a painting and say “no this is bad, do it again”. we also work together often on the same painting and this is always the best.

The Oyster Eaters 2013, April 45 x 40 inches Oil on Linen Signed Collaboration by Jay Miriam & Zev Rector

The Oyster Eaters 2013, April 45 x 40 inches Oil on Linen Signed Collaboration by Jay Miriam & Zev Rector

Two Twenty-Seven Year Old Witches Having a Smoke 2012, November 30 x 30 inches Oil on Linen Signed Collaboration by Jay Miriam & Zev Rector

Two Twenty-Seven Year Old Witches Having a Smoke 2012, November 30 x 30 inches Oil on Linen Signed Collaboration by Jay Miriam & Zev Rector

BE: You just turned 24 years old in April, yet your work has an avid maturity to it, both in focus and craft. What are your underlying themes? If so, why are they important to you as an artist?

JM: i like to paint women and i like to tell stories. there is a childlike approach to more serious topics — many of them expressed through clowns, ballerinas, women, and sometimes pigeons. my cat joplin sneaks into most paintings as well. 

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Painting of a Green Cat

BE: I love the titles of your work, is it your intention to deliver a narrative here? 

JM: a narrative — and a punchline! 

BE: Do you have a reoccurring character or is your thought process here to deliver more of an improvisation? 

JM: it’s improvisation. i don’t plan out paintings or reference pre-existing photographs, so that the paintings can develop themselves. it’s more of a dance this way and there is greater room for mistake and raw expression.

BE: Though some of these works are at times unrecognizable it seems as if you piece the whole together using exaggerated appendages. Is there a reasoning behind this? The nails are often exaggerated, is there a specific significance here? 

JM: big hands and feet have always been beautiful to me. the space created by the enlargement allows the eye to move throughout the painting without as much clutter. the hands can then be free to gesticulate or be still (depending on the viewer). 

BE: What are your hobbies outside of art? 

JM: right now zev and i are managing a garden we made. otherwise, i’m either reading or carrying a lot of heavy things. 

BE: In a perfect world, how does the future of the art world look to you?

JM: it wouldn’t feel so fast paced. there would be a greater importance on materials, science, technique, and lessons passed down [in books] from the old masters.

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