Interviews

Phoenix Artist Mimi Jardine on the Meaning of Feminism, Preserving Trash as Art

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Jardine studied drawing and painting at the University of Georgia during the 1980s. After studying there over the course of several years, during which she spent a summer in Italy, she relocated to Colorado. She was producing artist's books and was represented there by a contemporary craft gallery. After relocating again -- this time to North Carolina -- Jardine and her husband ran a gourmet food and wine store for eight years. Her central focus wasn't on making and exhibiting work until just before arriving in Phoenix. When she got here, she immersed herself in it by joining Eye Lounge. "That was going to be my grad school," says Jardine.

"I think I've always been attracted to found objects and I've always been bothered by litter," says Jardine. When taking a class at Phoenix College taught by Joe Willie Smith, she was assigned to go to a vacant lot and find various items such as fast food packaging, plastic pieces, and electrical parts. Jardine's background coupled with these new discoveries in Phoenix enabled her to bring these various working parts together. When she lived in Colorado she would tape wildflowers to the pages of books, just as she does today with found trash.

Jardine's recent work revolves around The Office of Environmental Responsibility, a faux-government organization. It's To-Go Lid Division consists of obsessive documentation of litter -- the lids are scanned and documents provide them with an identity and an origin. The project is both a critique of such agencies and of a collective apathy towards littering. There's a sense of humor there, but Jardine is bringing serious issues to light. Last year she received SMoCA's Good 'N Plenty Grant for her project's Mobile Remittance Unit, which she debuted at Canal Convergence last weekemd.

Coming up for Jardine is a lot of new work and much more discovery. She is participating in "Feminism Today," a group exhibition at monOrchid that will have a First Friday reception on March 6. Her research into the state of feminism today led her to discover that for some, feminism is a negative word. "I cannot imagine that feminism is a bad word," Jardine says. The work that she will be presenting in March will utilize her found trash in a new way and get at the essence of feminism. Jardine will present her objects with that concept in mind that people are gendered at birth and forced into roles, having the viewer interact and impose a gender upon the object.

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Mikey Estes
Contact: Mikey Estes