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Meet Melanie Waingarten

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melanie Waingarten.

Melanie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Since I was little, I wanted to be an artist, but I really didn’t know exactly what that meant to be. My grandfather was a painter and a sculptor and, every week, we used to visit his atelier and play with materials. I remembered that was my favorite day of the week after school. I would get together with my cousins in a tiny small wooden table he had in his studio and  we would experiment with colors and textures.

I grew up in Argentina and deciding what to study was not an easy choice. Living in a third world country and thinking of being an artist was, and still is a big challenge. Many questions arose: It is possible to survive as an artist?  Should I study something that secured me a future? Should I listen to my father saying ‘All artists are crazy people, study something that is emotionally and financially sustainable’?

I finally decided to study Architecture, thinking that was a good in-between decision. A combination of a more scientific, technical, grounded world with a lot of creativity and artistic influences. Meanwhile, I never stopped with my personal painting practice. But when I graduated, my connection with my work switched into a new reality.  I found out that my canvas started to be my body, I was inside my paintings, I was my paintings. This was my first connection to performance. I realized that, the theater world was calling me and I became really interested in the relationship between the body, the material, and the space. I quitted my job as an architect, packed my bag and took a plane to United States. I remembered once hearing from a visual artist that there was an incredible art school in California called Calarts.  I didn’t know anything about it. I arrived into that space and felt that I was exactly were I wanted to be. I applied for a master program in Scenic Design. I got in. And here I am, three years and a half later, just graduated, working as a freelancer artist in LA.

Has it been a smooth road?
Who walks on a smooth path? I don’t believe that’s real. Every journey has its own implications.

Being an outsider in any environment is a tough and challenging starting point. I was not born here, I didn’t speak the language, I grew up in another culture.I felt different in many ways. Life was hard at the beginning. I could say that what allowed me to stay was building a community, finding friends that became family, finding projects that empowered me. I realized we are survival animals. And I did survive. Everything  is a matter of perspective.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
My company is me as an architect, performance designer, and painter. I specialize in creating environments, building worlds to tell stories.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
The location issue is a question I always have running around. Where is a good place to do art? Technically, we could say that, this city full of artists, were you can find resources, support and money investment in the arts,  seems to be a good place to stay. However, I would like to think that we should be able to do our work wherever we go, it shouldn’t be a geographical or economical problem.

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