Artists in their own words: Leroy Miranda Jr.
Who: Leroy Miranda Jr.
Artist’s chosen location for interview: In his studio where he has a collection of hammers, jars of organized screws, an adorable dog with many names, and a boat that doesn’t work (yet)
Q: What do you think about loneliness?
LMJ: It sucks. Who wants to be alone? But, we all do experience this. I normally work in my studio, and I am alone in there. I haven’t ever really worked with other artists, and that’s not because I don’t want to. It is more that it just never happened. I’ve always been a bit of an outsider. I don’t like rules, and I don’t like to be like the crowd. I’m a pretty solo person, and I’m really shy when I first meet someone. I marched this past week, and that felt good. That’s probably the most I will do when it comes to interacting with a crowd.
In a way, loneliness means being different.
You’re one of a kind, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing until you have too much of it. Too much of your own thoughts can be very dangerous. Art is emotional. Artists, I think, feel other people’s pain, and they are vehicles to other people, especially visual artists. That can be overwhelming, and it can lead to that feeling of loneliness.
Q: Tell me about something in your life that serves no function, but you refuse to get rid of it.
LMJ: Everything in my life has a function. Everything has a reason, and I use it all. You saw my studio. I have hammers and nails, and all this stuff that I get from dumpsters. Just because someone throws something away doesn’t mean it ever goes away.
Even if an object sits there and you never pick it up or do anything with it, it still has a purpose.
A pot has a purpose to boil water and do pot things. [At this point, his dog jumps up on the couch with us]. A dog has a purpose; he likes to interrupt and wants attention. [Throws dog toy across the room, and his dog goes bounding].
If someone were to look at all the items in my life they would see that I paint, that I create, and that I want to be a good person. And then if they met my son they would have a bigger insight into me. He is as adorable as I am. [Laughing]. He has no filter like me, so we have conversations about everything. I treat him like an adult, so that makes the conversations interesting and also really difficult. He says some really adult things that are way beyond me. I often look at him and think, ‘You’re right.’
Q: How do you look at people’s faces?
LMJ: I sketch people in my brain when I see them. When I look at someone, I’m not just looking at them, I’m thinking about how to sketch them. When I’m by myself I’ll also flash colors in my eyes. Whatever color I want to see, I will pull it up in front of my eyes through my mind.
It’s really subconscious, though. I barely know that I’m doing it. Although, it’s weird because I have dreams, I don’t remember the exact details of the people in my dreams. I remember their silhouettes more than anything.
Although, I’m not good with remembering faces. I sketch these faces in my work, which is all very subconscious, and I’m not sure who those people are. I’m not trying to make anything look like one thing. I do edit the pieces. I will work on the piece, I’ll circle the piece and look at it in different ways. Some of the pieces look like me, but I don’t know where the visuals really come from or why I started doing portraits. All of it is really random and in the moment. I don’t draw anything out before. I don’t want to be that detailed. You look at nature, and it’s all free. It doesn’t complain. It doesn’t say anything. Although, when it does say something, it’s pissed. I guess my work is somewhat like that.
Q: When are memories important?
LMJ: I have a tendency to forget, but I do that on purpose. I had a pretty difficult and unhappy childhood. I’m not the only person that has that, but there are certain things I’ve gone through in my life that I’ve chosen to suppress.
Actually, ‘suppressed’ is the wrong word. The things from my past and those feelings come up in my work now and then, and I think that’s where that subconscious part comes in. I don’t even realize it when I’m working, but those things come back up. There’s no way you can actually forget about your past.
What I’ve learned is that you have to deal with that shit. You have to talk it out. If you don’t, you go crazy. It’s why people have phobias, it’s why people are racist--they have all this weird shit going on with them that they don’t deal with. They suppress these memories and feelings. I don’t want to do that. It’s not healthy to put that stuff away. I have the ability to forget things, but I don’t want to use it.
One day I’ll probably forget all things. Then I’ll just be a vessel.
Kelley Crawford is a professor, writer, mentor, dancer, and constant questioner. If you would like to contact Kelley Crawford, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.