For this week’s artist conversation, I had the pleasure of speaking with the insightful and creative Mimi Haddon. Her show is exhibited in the Merlino Gallery and is named “Conversations Between Strangers.”
When walking into the small gallery, different colors of a yarn-like fabric were weaved and draped in the center of the room. Warm yellows, reds, and oranges cascade down from the ceiling onto the floor and bunched together in a purposeful fashion. On the wall to the right of the middle fixture, another piece is hung. Instead of being like the one in the middle, a red yarn hung from the ceiling, carrying what seemed to be t-shirt collars. The collars consisted of different colors: blue, yellow, red, orange, and pink. On the opposite wall corner, variances of bright to dark yellow, purple, blue, red, and orange strands of fabric are pinned vertically on the wall. The last element of the gallery is hung horizontally on the farthest wall, behind the middle structure. Along this wall are tags from different t shirts, from different brands, that are hung by a wire. Once I found out that the different items were made from one hundred 100% cotton t-shirts, I was immediately intrigued to know the meaning behind the gallery.
The artist, Mimi Haddon, who has two more years in her MFA program, said that her installation was inspired by costumes from indigenous cultures. Alongside these colorful costumes, Mimi also has a passion for anthropology. She said that, through dissecting and organizing the one hundred shirts she used, she was conducting her own anthropological study and was basing this project off of exploration. Specifically for the wall lined with t-shirt tags, Mimi mentioned that she was exploring where these shirts came from. Despite the cotton coming from the United States, the t-shirts are manufactured and shipped to other countries, technically stating that the shirts were made all over the world. For the choice of colors, Mimi’s decisions were based off her reaction towards them, and warm tones really made an impact on her. She openly admitted that the galley changes everyday, making it a completely different show as each day goes by. Mimi finds it a very exciting way to work, and a great exercise to observe color in a nuance fashion. Along with the help of her eleven year old son, it took her a month to get all the materials ready.
Besides working with fabric, Mimi, a southern California native, actually graduated from CSULB in 1994 with a degree in graphic design. She was a photographer for fifteen years, but went back to school because she wanted to work with her hands. In the future, Mimi would like to do public work and get her art into public museums. She also would like to teach high school art. Currently, Mimi teaches craft classes to kids in the summer, and actually found out what to do with her shirts while doing weaving projects in these classes.
Personally, I related to Mimi’s art installation because I am also interested in what connects everyone together. Despite being of different cultures, everyone is still part of one human race. I wish everyone would understand that. Also, the fact that Mimi’s art is so fluid is very true to how people are because we are not necessarily the same people we were five to ten years ago. Drastically speaking, people can change in a matter of days or even hours! Anthropology is important because, like Mimi’s gallery, it shows humanity’s similarities, contrasts, and origins.
Overall, I really enjoyed Mimi’s woven art, and hope to see more work from her in the future.