MOONLIGHT MAG 2019                  

An Interview with
Micah Wood.

Who is Micah Wood?
A guy making art and trying to figure IT out. A mouth, a couple of eyes, a shorter than normal torso, and lanky legs.

Where are you from?
I was born in a small town in Iowa but grew up between Indiana, Chicago, and Iowa. A Midwest upbringing that let me eat a lot of corn. I’m proud of my Midwestern roots but currently call the Bay Area my home.
How did you get into making art?

A few people pushing me in the right directions and an incredibly supportive family that believed in me. I made a bunch of comic books and clay masks, figurines, bowls as a kid. My mother is an artist and my father is a Midwestern bon vivant. I had an incredible high school art teacher who believed in me and pushed me to study it after high school. There has been so many people along the way that have believed in me and I wouldn’t be here today without them.

What is something you want your audiences to walk away with with your artworks?
It’s hard to say really. I want memories to be jogged into place. I would like them to leave the work with more questions than answers. An emotional response that ranges from joy to fear would be alright. Let’s imagine two people start viewing the work simultaneously, one person who knows nothing about art and the other one know a fair amount. If the work elicits more than one or two sentences from them then I would be happy. If they fall in love after they walk away then even better.

What music have you been listening to lately?
Woof. Let’s see, I just got back from a road trip, so a lot of top 40 radio. But in general, it’s all across the board. Herbie Hancock, Harry Nilsson, Delta 5, Earl Zero, Augustus Pablo, a lot of Grateful Dead.

What does an artist do in France for fun?
France has many things to offer that an artist could deem “fun”. I mean, of course there are the museums, the galleries, the workshops to visit. For me, I liked to walk until I was tired and then find a café to sit and down and have an espresso. I think just being outside as much as possible really is what people do differently for fun over there. Even if it’s cold outside, people are still out and about. Personally, I played a lot of ping pong on the outdoor tables in the parks!

You just had an art residency in Paris,
tell us about that?
Sure. It was the Harriet Hale Woolley scholarship through the Fondation Des Etats-Unis at the Cité Universitaire Internationale des Paris. It was for nine months. They give you an amazing studio and a stipend for your time there. I mean, to be given the time and space to think and make is invaluable. I produced a show for the Fondation while I was there and that was really fun to further venture into sculpture and more paintings. I was surrounded my musicians and I think that affected the work as well in funny ways.

What are the themes in your current work?
Hmm. I tend to think a lot of my surroundings and how I interact with them and use the act of painting to translate those thoughts. I tend to work in series, so themes often times come and go, and I have a hard time and almost disregard identify any type of continuity in terms of themes. If I had to say, the theater, mice as a metaphor for all kinds of things, the body, and how humans interact with language. But things are always changing.

What is your creative process like?
Come to the studio, draw, tinker, paint, draw some more. I watch a lot of videos of dance performances which inspire me to move in the studio, or to think about how movement is so important in my work. It’s also a lot of dicking around in the studio and always thinking about John Baldessari’s quote “keep it fresh, keep it simple, and always have an idea of where you are going next”.

Any shoutouts to artists or people you’ve met on your travels?
To all the rodents of Paris, you’re the best muse I person could ask for. John Kamfos and Wilson Poffenberger for improvising their music in my last show. That was an incredible experience to have the two of them playing this wild, cacophonous music during the opening. Marion Cousin for being the best Parisian a friend could have the pleasure of knowing. The couch surfing host we stayed with in Amsterdam who didn’t like my art, you’re the best!

How is the Art scene in Paris?
Interesting. I mean, you’ve got this whole history of art in Paris, the museums, the cafes, the streets, the ateliers, it’s a lot but somehow it doesn’t seem oppressive. People say that Paris is a little sleepy in terms of contemporary art but I would say that it’s a city that is waking up after a very long nap. There is a lot of energy and really great artist run spaces like Exo Exo and Rinomina. I feel like it was a good time to be there.

Who are some inspiring artists to you currently?
My friend James Herman is always inspiring, he lives and works in LA. My friend Stefan Hoza is the best painter I know, I wish I could paint half as well as he does. I like a few artists in LA right now like Emily Mast, Jonathan Apgar and Peter Shire. I saw an amazing show at the Hamburger Kunsthalle of the work of Julian Rosefeldt. Another show that was really inspiring was at the Block Museum on the campus of Northwestern University. A retrospective of Charlotte Moorman that left me floored.

Hey Micah, so what’s some lasting impressions
that Paris has had on you?
Take time to breath. I don’t know, you know, cheesy stuff like enjoy food more, have more conversations with people, take pleasure in the one life we are given, super cheesy but kinda true.

What’s your favorite place in Europe?
So many! The Dordogne region in France was pretty amazing. I really loved Lisbon, Portugal and could see myself there more. Berlin is kind of hard to beat, I love that city.

What have you been missing from the states?
Mexican food!

artwork by @micah__wood
photography courtesy of micah wood