Artist Interview: Patrick McGrath Muniz

1.     What do you say when people ask you, 'What do you do?'
Im a full time artist, I live from my art.
2.     How did you get involved with art?
I got involved in art since an early age and at school, contributing every way I could always with education in mind. as I grew up and further developed my drawing skills and supported by my family I knew this would be my path.
3.     Where do you derive your inspiration from?
My inspiration derives mainly from nature, world history, mythology and religious iconography.
4.     What's something that most people just don't understand about your field?
I think people rarely think of an artist as an intellectual who is as much involved with ideas as with the aesthetic byproduct. It takes time to study, research and creatively re-interpret a subject and most people don't even get to see that part of the process.
5.     What's something that continues to interest you about your work?
I constantly find new unintended connections within the pantheon of symbols and Icons I appropriate for my work. This re-contextualization adds more symbolic insight and semantic layeringto the narrative.

6.     What new idea or innovation is having the most significant impact on how people think about art?
Information technology specially with social media is having a profound impact in the way we appreciate and shareart. Historical revisions in contemporary art when seen through the lens of social media open up new ways of understanding our present global predicament.
7.     What's an emerging trend that you think will shake up the art world?
I have little interest in trends. The problem with trends in art is that even though they may shake up the art world for a while, they have no enduring or transcendental consequences for the rest of the world.  I believe art should not be about trends and all about the world, not just the "art world".
8.     Please tell us about your training and how you transitioned to where you are today.
I did a B.F.A. with a concentration on painting at The school of Fine Arts in San Juan, Puerto Rico and soon after that a M.F.A. at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. The former proved to be a decisive factor in leaving the island and the latter refined my ideas and helped me develop the current visual language I incorporate in my paintings. Ten years after graduating from SCAD I feel there is still much to be learned in art and art school was just the tip of the iceberg. The real learning comes with experience in the real world.
9.     What artistic accomplishments are you most proud of?
More than any particular award, recognition or prize, the evolution and growth of the work itself is what makes me most proud of.  The hard work and many hours dedicated to painting reward me with the deepest satisfaction I can imagine.
10.    What is your state of mind when you are creating?
Interesting question. I often paint while being distracted by the very things that inspire me to paint in the first place. It is hard to describe this state of mind but it would be a sublime yet exciting and dreamlike state like when you are child listening to a wonderful mythic story of gods and heroes.

11.     Does your social and political climate impact your artistic expression?
Very,  very much indeed. The politics of my time as experienced through the mass media circus not only inform my work, they inspire it with their propaganda strategies and sensationalism. It is nearly impossible for me to separate politics from the corporate agenda driven media. My paintings respond directly to our consumerist society with its distractions, indifference and denial to the larger environmental perils of our age.
12.    Are you thinking about the viewer’s psychology of experiencing your art when you create?
When I create my work, the use of materials, formats and sizes are a conscious choice for me. These choices will influence the viewers experience and response to the work . The use of religious iconography in relatively small painting formats point towards an intimate religious response. The subtle insertion of contemporary pop culture elements disrupts momentarily this experience in order to bring back into context the image and iconographic relationships I wish to evoke
13.    What emotion would you say plays the biggest role in your art?
Emotions will depend on each viewer and their political and religious background. Curiosity would perhaps play the biggest role in my work.
14.   Do you have any experience in the Orlando art scene? What have you seen or heard?
In 2008 and 2009 I lived in Orlando and did a few shows there by that time.  The response was surprisingly positive given the politics at the time. I still keep a close connection to Central Florida as part of my family and friends live there and I hear the art scene has been improving in recent years.
15.   What advice would you give a young person considering a career as an artist?
The best advice I can think of for a young person considering art as a career is first of all don't follow advice from artists you do not wish to become like, follow primarily your own inner voice and study your subject of interest with relentless devotion. Art schools are good but an artist studio is even better.
The art world can be very deceiving, choose your allies wisely and learn only from the best.

16.  If you could go back to when you started creating art and give yourself some advice, what would it be?
Great question! First of all, work hard, save money and travel even more. Study something else besides art, like history or marketing and study art the old fashioned way, as an apprentice in a professional artist studio.