Today we’d like to introduce you to Mick Lorusso.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
My father and I would draw chalk murals in tunnels when I was growing up in Tucson, Arizona, and as a teen, I began to paint murals in my southwest Colorado community. There I apprenticed with a Hopi Kachina sculptor and made figurative surrealist cottonwood sculptures, while simultaneously doing an internship at a University of Utah laboratory focused on using yeast to detoxify superfund sites. The Mexican muralists and abstract expressionism influenced me greatly in undergraduate school at Colorado College.
The sudden loss of my adopted father to Leukemia redirected my artwork inward, in which I used meditation and painting to apprehend the intense processes of life and death and their associated psycho-spiritual states. I painted around this theme while living in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and later explored these ideas through urban interventions while living in Mexico City and Seattle. While at San Francisco Art Institute for grad school, many professors, including John Roloff and Meredith Tromble encouraged me to integrate my early passion for microbes and ecology into my practice, and I created my first artworks with aqueous bacteria that create electricity from food scraps. I began doing residencies where I combined ecology, microbiology, and technology with art, including a residency in Germany where I created the work “Microbial Schoppingen” that used electricity-producing bacteria to illuminate a sculptural village, and which received a hybrid art honorary mention at Ars Electronica 2013.
When my wife Frida Cano and I moved to the Los Angeles region in 2013, I began managing the UCLA Art|Sci Gallery for Victoria Vesna, which is a hub of interdisciplinary research, and I met and collaborated with many artists and scientists working on paradigm-shifting projects that aligned with my own concerns around biophysics, health, and the environment.
Stress-related health concerns led me to begin practicing Kundalini Yoga and I have since trained to be a yoga instructor, sharing the teachings that have brought so much health and joy to my life, and integrating them into my practice as an artist and educator.
Teaching and workshops, at the UCLA Sci|Art Nanolab, at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Los Angeles, and internationally, has been a huge part of my work as an artist since I want people to have their own insights and inspiration through art, yoga, and science. That’s one reason why I’ve become a long-distance member of a cooperative in Mexico City called XOCIARTEK, that combines society, art, ecology, and technology in workshops and symposia.
Please tell us about your art.
People, mangroves, glaciers, water, soil and cells have all been participants and co-creators in my projects. I believe that every galaxy, every creature, and every atom has creative agency in the universe. Through shamanic processes, yoga, meditation, art-making, and workshops I seek to activate, relate with, and visualize that energy that vibrates in all things.
The projects I create take many forms, including performance, workshops, installation, sculpture, painting, photography, video, and drawing. They often raise questions about energy, water, climate, health, and microbes. With my projects, I want to forge pathways of communication and potential understanding between all of these agents of co-creation. This has taken the form of recording the micro-ecosystem around mangroves at the Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva, Florida, and having participants interact with this footage by touching mangrove buds hooked up to electrodes, as a reflection on the resilience of the mangrove ecosystems and social bonds in the face of rising water and storm surges provoked by rapid climate change. And this communication has taken the form of performances in which I explain a Bosch triptych to the largest glaciers of Europe, to apologize for human recklessness, to ask for forgiveness, to express gratitude and love to them for supplying water to Europe, and to send out a wish for their survival and the survival of all living beings on the planet through this time of extreme climate change and societal instability.
I collaborate a lot, which helps expand the field of possibilities and makes for fun dialogs and discoveries. For example, in 2016, the UCLA Art|Sci Collective, Dawn Faelnar, Olivia Osborne, Frida Cano and I collaborated on a workshop series and interactive sculpture called “Water Canning” for the CURRENT: LA Biennial on water, in which we taught participants how toxic nanoparticles are getting into our water and gave people cans of “water preserves” with suggested activities on how to form more personal and appreciative relationships with water. With Clarissa Ribeiro, I’ve collaborated on some works about quantum entanglement and our cosmic origins, using Arduino, lasers, video chats, and Augmented Reality. With Joel Ong, I’ve been working on projects where we research and create visual and narrative stories about the environmental microbiome, including the microbes in the air that we catch on balloons and kites and might be implicated in the formation of clouds and precipitation.
I teach Kundalini yoga integrated with art and science as an extension of my own personal practice, to spark a path of intuition and inspiration in others. We do collage, drawing, painting, and in more advanced workshops integrate electrical circuits into artworks.
As an artist, how do you define success and what quality or characteristic do you feel is essential to success as an artist?
Success as an artist is finding your creative spark every day, and sharing it with the world somehow. Showing your work in a gallery might only be one aspect of sharing. For me recently I have embraced giving workshops and teaching as a potent way of getting creative ideas into the world. I feel that dedication to a creative process that can accommodate evolving interests and ideas, from other disciplines, is essential to success as an artist.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
Lately my work has been viewable at residency venues, at lectures and workshops, and of course online at micklorusso.net. People can support my work by following me on Instagram and Facebook and by signing up for future workshops.
Currently I teach yoga classes/yoga-art-science workshops out of my home in Echo Park and at occasionally at some yoga studios in the region. If interested, let me know so you can come to a class sometime!
- Website: micklorusso.net
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @micklorusso
- Facebook: @mick.lorusso