Interview with Jimmy Miracle.

13th February 2010

Interview with Jimmy Miracle.

One evening in early January, I braved the freezing weather to attend the opening of Storefront Gallery’s debut exhibition. I thought the space was interesting and I was excited to how they would curate such a large group show (considering the size of the space).  Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for the organizers, the space was so packed I could barely see much of the work and had to keep asking people to move aside with their drinks so I could get a better view.  However, tucked away behind the crowd, one piece really stood out. I wanted to try and find the artist in question but grew frustrated with the crowd and decided to leave. On my way out who should introduce them self but the artist himself… Jimmy Miracle! By far the best name I have come across in New York so far.

gentle domestic research, Jimmy Miracle, 2009, strawberry container and sewing thread

IS: Jimmy Miracle, can you tell me a bit about the main concerns of your practice?

JM: Philosopher Arthur Danto says, “Art communicates indefinable but inescapable meaning.” My work begins with a belief in meaning and works in a dialogue with this guiding principle.  Without meaning, life is dead.  I want to suck the meat and marrow out of life’s flesh and bones.  I enjoy exploding with the current of life.  To do this, I use humble, ordinary materials to inquire about the invisible spirit that radiates within the actual substance of physical things.  I also hope in what is unseen.  I often feel like St. Francis of Assisi cast out into the woods repetitively gathering stones one by one, dragging and stacking them over long periods of time to build a dwelling place for the poor and for God.

IS: I first encountered your work in a group show at Storefront gallery.  That show contained a lot of other artists within a relatively small space, a rather salon like set-up. How did you feel your work was represented through that show?

JM: Large, random group shows are social gathering places to meet people and for critics to find a voice-box for expert knowledge. It is amazing that my work didn’t fall off the pedestal that night from the tipsy crowd, but shows do help unknown artists get exposure. Rodin’s “The Age of Bronze” was rejected by the Paris Salon for a few years. Then, he contacted his important friends to vouch for him and coax the jury to accept his work. The Salon reluctantly accepted this piece and placed it in a dark corner way out of the way of the slick, polished academic narratives of the time.  The critics scorned his work, and Rodin failed to find a buyer; but the true discerning eyes marveled at this masterpiece. Now, one of the copies of “l’Age d’airain” brilliantly stands in our Metropolitan Museum of Art to summarize all of Rodin’s expression up to that point in history.

art is magic, Jimmy Miracle, 2009 director’s chair, red sheet, sewing thread, and silk dove

IS: What are your views on exhibition openings? What purpose do they serve?

JM: The white box gallery/museum is the commercial venue for the art market, a place of entertainment, and a place for the art institution to manifest its ideologies. But, it also postures as an alternative sanctuary for the spiritual void in contemporary culture.  Hiroshi Sugimoto’s  ”7 days/7 nights” at the Gagosian in fall 2008 hovered with transcendent glory solemnly signaling the spiritual purpose of art.  To create culture amidst our disarray, it takes a poet with a big heart to remain sensitive and compassionate.

Q4: Are you any good at small talk? How would you normally strike up a conversation at an opening or other art event?

Most of us are strangers in New York.  Say, “Hello, how are you?  What brings you here?”  I think about my art professor in college when I lived in Mississippi. He genuinely cared about people.  Schmoozing is a great way to store up treasures on earth.

Ascension, Jimmy Miracle, 2008 Shells, driftwood, funerary garment, rope, and birds, 7 feet high x 14 feet wide

IS: You have a solo show coming up.  How do you feel about the your work being shown only in the context of your own practice as opposed to in the context of a group show?

JM: ‘All Things Project’ is an unusual gallery, but I was given the keys for about 6 weeks and allowed free reign to create an installation with one main caveat: I could work in the ceiling area and on the walls but not in the ‘walking area’.  I was excited to work all alone in a warm, clean place regardless of the stipulations.  All artists want to publish our own book with nice binding and a nobel prizel, but if your poem ends up in a well-arranged compilation some interesting dialogue can occur too.

IS: What artists and spaces based in New York would you recommend looking into?

JM: I’ve been here 4 years, and I’m asking myself that exact same question.  I’ve seen a lot of great workspaces, galleries, and residencies for emerging artists and a lot of buzz and hype surrounding many hot names but not much work that I could recommend.

JIMMY MIRACLE: NEW BIRDS is the first of four exhibitions curated by Samuel W. Kho for All Things Project in 2010. The curatorial appointment, in its second year, is made possible by a generous grant from the Mustard Seed Foundation, matched by individual gifts. All Things Project and its gallery are part of the Neighborhood Church of Greenwich Village, a community that supports cutting-edge visual practices, thoughtful lectures, as well as music and spoken word performances."