Interview with Nicole Mouriño by Rebecca Brantley
R.B.: Where and when were you born? Briefly describe your personal journey to New York.
N.M.: I was born on South Beach [in Miami] in 1987. At 17 I received a life-changing grant from YoungArts. I bought my first Apple Computer and flew to NYC with my Pratt acceptance, a suitcase, and a couple hundred dollars.
R.B.: Where do you work? Describe your studio practice.
N.M.: I share a live-work space with my husband, the artist Ryan Till in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Our studio is sun filled and the largest room at the end of a railroad style apartment. A typical studio day consists of rummaging through hundreds of my bodega photos, then altering and printing these out for reference. I do several pourings of Cadmium Red Ink on canvas, let them dry, start a new Netflix series, and get cracking.
R.B.: How did your experience at Pratt shape your artistic career?
N.M.: At Pratt I relied heavily on the hand-me-downs of friends, and one day landed a container of Guerra polymer and several liquid pigment dispersions. I had never felt more connected to effect of paint. As a kid, my great-grandfather used to tell me stories of making his own pink marbled-cement floor in Cuba with dry pigments. The older he got, the more his story became a broken record of pride, fascination, and beauty. That is what it’s like to paint with Guerra.
R.B.: Describe the major themes your work for Lineage addresses.
N.M.: The bodega window is an NYC institution, and a site for greater discussions on immigration, cultural preservation, and Latinx pride.
R.B.: Works like BODEGA, SIRENA/HABIBI WITH DINNER OPTIONS (2017) suggest a blend of cultures. Can you discuss the relevance of plurality or multicultural experience—perhaps especially as the city provides—in your work?
N.M.: The Latinx experience is a multicultural one, but having a diverse racial identity is tough to describe in the U.S. where the history of black and white polarization really precedes everything else. Latin America is an incredibly diverse group of territories, with various racial identities. That being said, there are so many brown folk in NYC, it’s like being part of a melanin tribe.
R.B.: Some of your works evoke portals or windows (like those in Daze), and on your website, you state that you were drawn to spaces that reminded you of southern light. Please discuss the role that light and portals play in your work.
N.M.: In Miami, there is saturated color in everything; the plants, deco buildings, and all the hot mirage-air in between. This kind of buzzing light happens naturally in the south, but in NYC it’s manipulated into a stream of LED’s around shop windows. Sometimes the windows are sprinkled with images of the Caribbean, places we would rather be, or perhaps where the owners are from. They become these transportative frames, and that is exactly what the function of painting is.