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Meet Cynthia Minet of MinetStudio in Lincoln Heights

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cynthia Minet.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I started being interested in art as a kid. My family lived in Rome, Italy, and my parents were friends with the artist Dmitri Hadzi. He was a successful sculptor who made monumental abstract bronzes for public spaces. We went to visit his studio when I was about 8 years old, and I remember he was standing inside a huge plaster piece, his blue overalls and beard covered in white. I remember thinking with great excitement, “what does it take to do that?!” From that moment on, I was fascinated by all the sculptures and fountains of Rome.

When we moved to Los Angeles, I took a clay sculpture class in junior high school, and then I was hooked! I studied art at UCSB, and during my junior year of college, I went back to Rome, to the Tyler School of Art/Temple University Abroad Program. That year really solidified my desire to be a visual artist. After grad school at San Francisco State University, I started teaching art full-time, first at Antelope Valley College, and then at Moorpark College.

Teaching inspires me to keep learning and allows me time to do my own work. Once I moved into my studio at the Brewery Art Colony, my career really started to develop, and I began showing my work regularly.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has not been a smooth road. It is always a balancing act between the demands of the classroom and the demands of the studio. I have been lucky in the past ten years, as I have increasingly been invited to participate in exhibitions, but it has been challenging to arrive here.

The biggest challenge has been finding representation by a commercial gallery. I was briefly with a gallery that then closed, and it is difficult for me to seek that next relationship. And, although I apply to them regularly, I have not yet been selected for major grants or awards. One of my earliest challenges was in being a female sculptor. I used to make work in steel and bronze, and there is significant machismo surrounding those materials.

People are often surprised that I am the creator of my sculptures as it is easier for them to imagine a man making large sculptures, not a woman.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about MinetStudio – what should we know?
Despite the challenges listed above, I have been showing my work, by invitation, in museums across the country. I am most known for my sculptural work with recycled plastics and LEDs. I have been making illuminated life-size sculptures of domesticated animals for the last nine years. This menagerie includes oxen, birds of prey, an elephant, a camel, a pack of dogs, and some smaller creatures.

My works address environmental and political issues through their medium and context. I respond thematically to the site where my work will be shown, often adjusting an existing installation to the new space, or making pieces that are specific to something about the location. I really enjoy all of the hands-on aspects of making my work, from the conceptual drawings and model making to the final resolution. I hire assistants for specific tasks when I am able to.

On my latest project, I collaborated with lighting systems designer Vaughn Hannon to resolve the sophisticated lighting and sound of the installation. I am most proud of my latest work, Migrations, which is a solo installation commissioned by the International Museum of Art and Science in McAllen, Texas. The installation consists of six over- life-size representations of the Roseate Spoonbill.

The suspended sculptures have light animations in the wings so they look like they are flying. They also have motion-activated sounds. Embedded into the birds or hanging from their bills are objects culled from the Rio Grande border, either dropped by migrants or Homeland Security agents. The work calls attention to the issues impacting avian and human migration and is strikingly relevant in our current political climate.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I have had many key supporters along the way: friends, teachers, curators, My first art teacher was Susan Weinberg, who runs Infinity Studio under the Santa Monica Pier. She taught me sculpture and painting when I was still in high school, and her encouragement was vital. My parents, of course, who paid for those lessons, and who sent me to college.

Many teachers along the way, from Paolo Carosone, at Tyler, to Don Rich and Stephen De Staebler at SFState. Once I started teaching, Pat Hinds was a great mentor. At the Brewery, a studio visit with Roland Reiss was one of the most significant moments in helping me find my stride. Artist friends like Jill D’Agnenica and Margaret Adachi have helped me with constant technical and professional support, as well as providing recycled materials to use in my work, and have encouraged me to keep going. Photographer Martin Cox has documented my work from the beginning, and his stunning photos of my sculptures have helped further my career.

Curators like John O’Brien, who invited me to participate in and organize exhibitions early on, to HK Zamani, Darlene DeAngelo and Tyler Stallings, who offered me opportunities for larger scale installations. A key achievement was being selected for the LA Department of Cultural Affairs/Los Angeles World Airports temporary exhibitions series in 2011. That commission for the Bradley International Terminal gave me permission to make the large-scale sculptures that I have continued to show since then and opened doors for the many subsequent projects that lead me to today.

Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years? Any big shifts, changes, trends, etc?
I am working on some new projects in the next two years. My exhibit from McAllen, Texas will travel to the Museum of Art and History (MOAH) in Lancaster, CA. (Opens January, 2019). In September,2019, I will be presenting a new installation in the window/lobby spaces of the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles. That work will focus on oil production in Los Angeles, and the fossils found in the La Brea Tar Pits. I have also been invited to make a new piece for the Trash to Art Museum in Baku, Azerbaijan (September 2018). Additionally, I am curating an exhibit called Borderlands which includes artists from Los Angeles and Southeast Texas. This will open at the McNish Gallery, Oxnard College, in March, 2019.

Beyond the next two years, I hope to present my work to more audiences around the world, and potentially make some permanent public pieces in more durable materials. I will certainly be including light sequencing, motion activated sounds, light projections and 3D printed parts in my new works, and collaborating further with people who have the skills I lack.

Pricing:

  • Sculptures range from $2000-$ 15,000
  • Drawings range from $1500-$3000

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Martin Cox, Carlos Limas, Joyce Dallal

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