Our one hundredth and one interview in this series of intimate interviews is with talented mobile photographer and artist, Lisa Cirenza. This is an interview that is so thoroughly inspiring, Cirenza has always had deep trust in her instincts and ingenuity, she has faced and conquered her creative fears, she has asked herself off-piste questions, gathered intelligent, inquisitive, reflective people around her and created the ultimate subconscious artistic landscape, enabling her to live the most inspiring life with art and above all, she stays open. Luckily for me, we’ll get to meet up soon, I’ll fill you in. For now, enjoy!
To read the other published interviews in this series including artists, Adria Ellis, Rino Rossi, Mehmet Duyulmus, Alexis Rotella, Lou Ann Sanford Donahue, Irene Oleksiuk, Kerry Mitchell, Filiz Ak, Dale Botha, M. Cecilia Sao Thiago, Deborah McMillion, Rita Colantonio, Amy Ecenbarger, Jane Schultz, Anca Balaj, Joyce Harkin, Armineh Hovanesian, Kate Zari Roberts, Vicki Cooper, Peter Wilkin, Barbara Braman, Becky Menzies, Sukru Mehmet Omur, Sarah Bichachi, Michel Pretterklieber, Alon Goldsmith, Judy Lurie Wahlberg, Andrea Bigiarini, Sean Hayes, Oola Cristina, Kathleen Magner-Rios Linda Toki, Deb Field, Emilo Nadales, Lydia Cassatt, David Hayes, Jean Hutter, Frederic Deschênes, Mark Schnidman, Fatma Korkut, Fleur Schim, Rob Pearson-Wright, Dieter Gaebel, James Ellis, Marco P Prado, Jeronimo Sanz, Manuela Matos Monteiro, Bleu Chemiko, Manuela Basaldella, Stefania Piccioni, Luis Rodríguez, Marilisa Andriani(@mitrydate) Mayte Balcells (@artofmayte), Nicole Christophe, Jennifer Graham, Cathrine HalsørPaul Toussaint, Carol Wiebe, Julie Denning, Kim Clayton (@berleyart), Karen Messick, Serap Utaş, MaryJane Rosenfeld, Paul Suciu, Susan Latty (@pause.and.breathe),John Nieto, Phyllis Shenny, Joy Barry, Max Lies Derdonk, Rita Tipunina, Violet Martins, Nizzar Ben Chekroune, Lynette Sheppard, Paul-Andre Hamel, Rejane Rubino, Susan Detroy, Rosalie Heller, Wayman Stairs, Cintia Malhotra, Anita Elle, Juta Jazz, Cheryl Tarrant, Hanni König Kaoru Shintaku David Gilbert Jana Curcio, Mary Lorincz Amado Ergana, Francesco Sambati, Philip Parsons, Kathryn Garkut Massimo Bortolini Camilla Crescini Francesca Malagoli Sidonie Petit Dirk Fleischmann, Fiona Christian, Alastair Hooley Juliet Morris and myself, go here.
What was your earliest childhood ambition?
It sounds like a cliche, but there’s strong evidence I had artistic aspirations from infancy…
My parents loved to recount the story of how they had to move my cot away from the wall, because I’d often dig into my nappy and use the contents to paint or draw on the adjacent wall—a precursor to the works of Chris Ofili?
Solo piano accompanist for my school play the Mikado, playing original Gilbert and Sullivan Score at age 11. Too young to know I was supposed to be afraid of such an undertaking…
Cleaner and Receptionist at the local Racquetball Center, so I could earn money, but also free court time and coaching…hitting those balls saved my sanity in my teen years…
Private or State school?
University or Work?
University— My parents, who’d never been to university told me I could become a lawyer or doctor and go to Harvard, Princeton, or Yale (I grew up in the USA). They were worried art and/or music would lead me to an early Bohemian demise. I always sought solace in the outdoors, escaping every summer to an inexpensive—sleep in tents—summer program in the woods. During the equivalent of my first A level summer I was accepted as a National Science Foundation Scholar to spend the summer on a glaciological research expedition on the Juneau Icefields in Alaska (ok, maybe this was taking that seeking solace thing a bit too far??? But hey, it was fully funded, and it sounded amazing—my parents thought I was nuts and asked why I couldn’t be normal like my friends and go to the beach like all normal Jersey girls??)
That lead to my applying to Stanford University to study Geology, as the field research was done in the Sierra Nevada mountains and at the beach. Who could argue with that?? When I arrived, I asked to double major in geology and French. (This was my scheme for getting to Paris to study art without anyone knowing about it.) My geophysics advisor thought it was the strangest request he’d heard, and yet, he helped facilitate connections in Paris for me. However, the Overseas studies program didn’t buy into it—study geology in Paris??? So I applied to do a Master’s congruently in International Policy Studies to fortify my application. The geophysics advisor had connected me with someone at L’ecole des Mines de Paris, and off I went to study Mining Engineering, the Geopolitics of Energy, and—in secret—art in Paris…
Who was or is still your mentor?
As a young teen,my art, choral, and theatre arts teachers. As an older teen Dr.Maynard Miller, he ran the Juneau Icefield Research Program and truly believed in me. Countless others since then, and I’d do a disservice to all, by mentioning only a few—but I believe the ones who influenced my teen years had the deepest of influences.
How physically fit are you?
I’m a passionate open water distance swimmer, it’s my form of meditation, and I find it imperative to stay in shape to carry, hang, is manipulate large artworks. I’m also a downhill ski-a-lic, a bit of an adrenaline junky, who is increasingly turning towards yoga to find the Yin for my Yang.
How politically committed are you ?
I’m strongly committed to opening minds and hearts to kindness & empathy across cultural, societal, and political divides. I believe the human species is stronger as a species when we pool our resources, our knowledges and experiences, and help each other. Kindness and open spirited-ness should not be affiliated with any” tribe” nor political leaning.. but I’m pretty certain some people reading this might ascribe those characteristics to a political tribe—how very sad…
Ambition or Talent, what matters more to success?
Ambition! I see too many hyper-talented artists waiting for discovery. Ambition allows everyone a chance to hone their creative destinies. But I don’t like the word ambition, I think it has more to do with mindful focus…and having a compelling sustainable ‘why’
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
A more coherent spiritual understanding of why exactly we exist
What’s your biggest extravagance?
Umm, let me think about that, well maybe I need to go answer some emails before I can answer that..as I open the computer I remember I forgot to finish that image, and to finish that image I need to go look at the inspiration, but I can’t find the inspiration without a wee bit more coffee in me, but I’m out of coffee, gotta run to the store…umm what was the question again? Oh! My biggest extravagance has to be… (drumroll please….) …..Procrastination!
In which places are you happiest?
The mountains, preferably in the water—a mountain lake– or on the snow, a glacier or ski slope, I’m not too particular…
What ambitions do you still have?
To use my art as a vehicle to inspire creative endeavours, problem solving & empathy in an increasingly tribal and, dare I say, self-centered world.
What drives you on?
I grew up in an environment where nothing I did was ever quite “good enough. Art was not an option, and yet for me, internally it was never not an option. When I chased and achieved my dream of becoming an artist, some of my drive was to prove the naysayers wrong. I’m past that now as it’s not a sustainable source of positive fuel. I’ve reached a point where I am truly driven by the need for more creative, positive, open-minded, community-minded thinking populations; and by the unique role artists can play in achieving these societal aspirations.
What do you find most disconcerting in other people?
Limiting self-beliefs that confine them to being victims, & victimising others in the process.
What is the greatest achievement in your life so far?
My four amazing grown children and the adults they’ve become. There isn’t a single aspect of being a parent that doesn’t require some form of creative thinking acting and/or being. They truly are the high points of my life’s creative achievements
If your 20 year old self could see you now, what would she think?
“Never Ever Give Up”, words I lived by then and still live by now. That being said she’d be gobsmacked I actually got there!!!
Which object that you’ve lost do you wish you’d still had?
A body that didn’t ache quite so much, and a memory that didn’t go on holiday so much.
What is the greatest challenge of our time?
FEAR-It leads to fixed mindsets, tribalism, and the ability to be easily politically manipulated.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
Do you believe in a past life?
If you had to rate your life satisfaction so far, out of ten,what would it be?
10+ What hasn’t killed me, has made me stronger…except for my memory, I can’t quite remember if that’s any stronger???
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