Meet Mira Dancy, Painter of Inverted Archetypes
Painter Mira Dancy’s work radiates intense color, constructing in sinuous lines towering figures and landscape elements that sing with abstract gesture, both quoting and inverting art history archetypes. Longing for a palette of warm pastels, its illuminating pinks and blues and its flourishes of melon and mint odalisques with outstretched limbs and thick sunbeams, the horizon of the ocean and the patchwork of the countryside, the fall dark braids and the crest of low waves. At the same time, they weave their spells with meaningful abstraction, partly unveiling an unseen realm through the familiar forms of it.
Dancy has always been interested in feminine powers of creation and healing; but she does not understand at all how closely these eternal paradigms have become linked to literal motherhood based on gestation in today’s political extremism. Naturally alarmed by the patriarchal assault on women’s bodily autonomy and the prospect of forced motherhood, in her current exhibition at the Night Gallery, Dancy relies instead on the strength of metaphorical and spiritual mothers in mythology, witchcraft, mentoring and the land itself.
LA WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
MIRA DANCE: As a child, I was very attached to my imaginary realms – and as I got older, around 10 or 11, I started keeping notebooks of architectural sketches on graph paper, floor plans mostly for houses with no exteriors. I didn’t want them to have a style or look like anything I knew or recognized as “home”. I loved the hypothetical nature of the drawing and how I could live inside its notation. Looking back, I can see them as interior landscapes – impossible houses fashioned from bodies.
What is your short answer to people who ask you what your job is about?
My work deals with the entanglement of our inner and outer lives, in particular my own experience as a woman and a mother. My desire for paintings to convey some of what is unseen in our daily lives – feelings of joy, empathy, anxiety and discovery – guides my use of intensely vivid colors and a disjointed picture plane. . I like the idea that paintings can live outside of time, and that they are potential messengers to the past or the future.
What would you do if you weren’t an artist?
If I hadn’t discovered painting, I think I would have become an architect — even if I don’t know how I would have reconciled my preference for the imaginary over the real.
Did you go to art school? Why why not?
I went to Bard to study writing, but soon found myself in the art department where there was no shortage of feminist thinkers. The faculty was filled with working artists from all disciplines, and I feel very fortunate to have learned to paint while also engaged with friends and teachers working in film, photography, poetry and the philosophy. Six years later, I doubled down and got my MFA at Columbia, where I met several artists that I still get to know and show with today. The Night Gallery itself was a proposal that Davida Nemeroff developed from the close-knit nature of this community.
Why do you live and work in LA, and not elsewhere?
I fell in love with the idea of living and working in Los Angeles in 2010, when I started coming regularly to collaborate on projects with Night Gallery, but it took me 10 years to manifest the logistics of uprooting of my young family in Brooklyn. We moved here during the pandemic in 2020, and I’m so happy to be able to share my love for the trees, plants, and forests here with my children.
When was your first show?
Twenty years ago! I think…in 2002, an artist friend from college opened a gallery in his workspace in Bushwick and gave me one of the first shows. I don’t even remember all the details of a disagreement we had, but at some point during the show I arrived home late at night to find my large canvases leaning against the wall of my apartment building. . The paintings were fine, but I think it took a few years before we spoke again.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show or project?
Madonna canceled is on view at night gallery until November 5.
Which artist, living or dead, would you most like to show or work with?
I have always been very drawn to the story of female artists who used paint as a kind of mystical or psychic medium, and I would like to meet Hilma af Klint, Emma KunzWhere Varo Remedies for a show on another astral plane.
Do you listen to music while you work? If yes, what?
I usually look for a stream source when I work, which often leads me to listen to artists like Leikeli47 and Tierra Whack on repeat, but recently I’ve also been listening to Robert Thurman’s weekly readings of the Buddha Garland Sutra on Youtube. He describes the text as “holographic” where each verse reflects the whole in some way. This concept has been a common thread for me for several months.
Website and social media credentials, please!
The pandemic caused me to withdraw from social media — mostly because I was spending so much time with my kids and trying to model healthy phone habits as I prepared to raise a teenager. But @miramizzmira is on Instagram and occasionally shares some views from the studio. I rely mostly on my galleries – @night gallery and @chapter to circulate images of my work.
Editor’s Note: The disclaimer below refers to advertisements and does not apply to this or any other editorial article.
Advertising Disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.