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Artists from away: Miki Glasser

In early January Nola.com hosted a live chat about whether or not New Orleans is a good place for young people to begin a career and a life. The discussion, which prompted over 200 reader comments, originally began as a response to two opinion pieces on the subject, one of which was entitled “Why I chose to live in New Orleans,” by guest-writer Sally Hartman.

As a twenty-something laying down roots in this city, Hartman took the pro-Nola stance in this discussion,  saying that it was the creative openness that first drew her to live here. “[New Orleans] has a longstanding tradition of welcoming artists, thinkers, and iconoclasts who set the precedent for creative risk taking,” she wrote.

So who are these artists and creative thinkers? And why have they chosen to live here? With these questions in mind, NolaVie will be running interviews that will profile the young artists who have been attracted to New Orleans and who help add to the creative authenticity of this city.

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Name: Miki Glasser

Occupation: Ceramicist/ Studio Potter, Ceramics teacher at Byrdie’s Studio, Part-time Middle/Elementary school teacher at the International School of Louisiana, Art Handler for Prospect 1

Hometown: Northport, ME

Age: 30

Miki Glasser is an artist living in New Orleans who combines her work as a ceramicist with a career in teaching. After attending Bard College in upstate New York, Miki lived in New Orleans for three years before going to Teacher’s College at Columbia University in New York City. After graduation she returned to New Orleans, became part of a shared studio space in the Marigny, and now teaches art part-time at the International School of Louisiana. You may have seen her work around at the Freret or OC Halley Art markets, or at other festivals like Bayou Boogaloo. Her aesthetic is organic and clean, playful and meticulous… truly a reflection of the qualities one must have as both a teacher and an artist. She has also recently extended into larger scale art markets, participating in Austin’s Renegade Craft Fair. Although her list of occupations is lengthy, she had the unhurried vibe of a Mainer-turned-Southerner when I met with her in one of her neighborhood bars on Freret street. She lives uptown with her dog, Pyret Louise.

NolaVie: When did you decide to pursue your art?

MG: “During grad school I took a summer clay workshop in Maine. I met all these people who were actually making art as a living, and I was like, ‘Oh! You can do that!’”

NolaVie: What brought you to New Orleans?

MG: “In college I randomly took a spring break down here, and fell in love. Then right after graduation, I moved here with my boyfriend, who was from here. I was a preparator at the CAC for three years, then thought I’d like to try working with art in schools instead of in a museum setting. I had always wanted to be a teacher.”

NolaVie: What has kept you down here?

MG: “Basically I just got sucked in. This is the only place I’ve lived where I don’t feel like a weirdo, and I’m able to be myself.”

NolaVie: Any hesitations about being an artist here?

MG: “I wonder about how limited my opportunities are here. As I grow my business, I sometimes see there are more lucrative places where I could be working markets. Here, I would maybe make $200 at a market, in Austin, maybe $,1000.”

“I feel like New Orleans gets fetishized a lot. You know, like someone will pick up something I’ve made, and be like, ‘These are great! Do you think you could put a fleur-de-lis on it? Or make it in LSU colors instead?’ I’m like, ‘If I still lived in Maine, I wouldn’t be putting lobsters on my s*** either!'”

NolaVie: What are the benefits?

MG: “I’m really able to be a small production artist. If I was in New York, I’d lose the scale. I would rather be making things on a smaller scale, where I have control of the product, and where most importantly, I have a relationship with the buyer. The larger scale side of that is selling a design and losing the element of knowing what goes into a product, losing control of the conditions it’s made under, the process of it, and the relationship with my buyers.

“In general, I love knowing my neighbors. I love the familiar faces. New Orleans is an easy place to exist as an artist. There’s room for me to live and work like I want without compromise. I can afford my studio space, I’m part of a solid educational community, and it’s never boring here. And the people here aren’t homogenous, I always meet people who are different from me - who have different beliefs than me.”

NolaVie: Where else can you imagine living?

MG: “I think of Maine sometimes. There’s a vibrant community there that supports artists.”

Check back in the coming weeks for more profiles and interviews with local artists from away. 

Elisabeth Morgan writes about New Orleans for NolaVie. Contact her at elisabethsmorgan@gmail.com.