Colorado Springs artist Wendy Mike describes herself as “a kinesthetic person,” using ordinary materials to create three-dimensional, energetic expressions of the human body. Her current installation with De Lane Bredvik at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, Ragnarök Anthropocene, explores the Norse myth of war between gods and giants, as well as our responsibility in shaping the environment. After walking through the installation, we sat down with Mike to discuss her work.
Springs: What made you want to pursue art?
Wendy Mike: I’ve been an artist my whole life. My mom says that I used to cry when I was 4 years old because I couldn’t draw things the way they looked. I never wanted to do anything but be in the arts.
What common themes do you work with?
I would say my art works with a combination of emotional and political content. I find it’s better, more authentic, to bring people in with beauty than to hit them over the head with something overtly confrontational. I love the idea of throwaway, like using packing tape, as the material transcends itself. I love creating beautiful, compelling work out of unconventional components.
What experience do you want people to have while viewing your work?
One of the things I like about the impact of my work is that people enjoy it. Everyone gets it in a sense because I’m working with the human form, which has a basic resonance, but the material is so surprising. They don’t know what it’s made out of, and they want to touch and move it. If you want to engage intellectually, there’s a ton of design that’s gone into it, but you don’t have to. To me, that’s the way visual art should work. It should be able to have an immediate emotional impact that bypasses your head and goes to your heart and provides something as an experience without necessarily having to understand it.
How important is community in your work?
It’s hugely important. I’ve done many installations that are not in museums, and [they are] right there for the public. You don’t have to have money. You don’t have to have a ticket. You don’t have to have a degree in art to have some experience that’s going to cause you to either think or feel something. The original creative motivation is personal, but it translates immediately to a sense of a larger community involvement.
What’s the inspiration behind Ragnarök Anthropocene?
We’re using myth to draw attention to current reality and asking the question of who are we going to be in our world, now that we have the power of giants and gods to create and destroy. Tribal peoples have an innate sense of stewardship of the environment that they live in. We’ve lost that, and we’re in a big world of hurt because of it. We need to get back to that sense. It’s using a narrative to draw attention to that, which I think is powerful.
Read more of our interview with Wendy Mike here.
Inside Ragnarök Anthropocene
Ragnarök Anthropocene is on display at the Fine Arts Center until Jan. 7, 2018. In the exhibit, Bredvik’s runes and Norse symbols represent the myth. Wendy Mike used local Olympic athletes, the modern day “gods,” as models for her translucent human figures. As an artistic reaction to the Waldo Canyon Fire and resulting floods, Ragnarök Anthropocene illuminates the cycles of birth and destruction, questioning our role as stewards of the land.
Wendy Mike’s free solo show exploring solidarity between women opened at the Kreuser Gallery on Dec. 1.