What does it mean to truly rest? To allow your body to fully absorb rest? The artist interviewed in this episode is truly a rest enthusiast and expert! Mira Burack is an artist living in the mountains of New Mexico on the unceded land of the Pueblo people. She received an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and BA in Studio Art and Psychology from Pepperdine University. Burack was born in Boston, Massachusetts and grew up on the coast of Maine.
Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and she has lectured, taught workshops, and was a faculty member at the College for Creative Studies. She received a Community + Public Arts Detroit grant for The Edible Hut, a community space with a living edible roof. In 2020, she was selected for the Women to Watch exhibition at the National Museum for Women in the Arts and nominated for a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors grant. Burack spends her time learning from the high desert land, making, and enjoying her family.
At the beginning of the interview Mira walks us through her upbringing and her art practice. As her father began to dig more into his Jewish roots, practices like intentionally preparing and participating in the shabbat were common. Because this very quieting time is focused on “no transfer of energy”, Mira recalls becoming very close with her family with frequent family walks and family rest times. These practices and others like it as she grew up set the foundation for her current practice. Even though she has lived in New York and Detroit as an adult, and still enjoys some aspects of city life, she much prefers the slower and more quiet life that living on 30 acres in the New Mexico high desert affords.
Her current work comes from a direct reflection of how rest affects the body. Her family textiles – including found objects like quilts, pillows, and bedding point to the blurred lines between interior and exterior lives. Mira also makes 2D photo collages using some of these same materials, as well as painted surfaces that include dried plants and animal feathers. Another wing of her art practice also includes inviting people to her “earthship” in the high desert of New Mexico, where she and her family and extended family live, and lead them through rest workshops. These workshops encourage participants to go out into the landscape, spend some time resting directly in or on the land, and coming back to reflect on the experience. In the future, she also hopes to create several pods with different sensory experiences, called “The Sleeping Huts”, which will include smells, sound, and touch.
Mira’s art practice is in direct opposition to the hustle culture in which many of us find ourselves. She explains that sometimes her projects take two or three years to make, and that she enjoys the slow process because it allows her room to truly meditate on the subject matter. Through her intentionally restful lifestyle that permeates the atmosphere in her family home, Mira recalls that most of the time she has worked out ideas in her head far before she reaches for her art-making materials. The slowing down, the listening to her body, the lifestyle she has created around rest – all of these things create her artworks. She lives rest and creates rest in a beautiful balance.
Biggest art crush: Seven ancestral stomachs by Gudalupe Maravilla
Dream trip: Big island of Hawaii and the volcanic activity
What film or book has inspired you greatly? My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem and The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard
Favorite meal: Anything vegetarian and Italian
Shout-out: Family pod and Artist/Mother group in New Mexico
Where were you 5 years ago in your art career? Had just moved to New Mexico
Where do you want to be in 5 years? Large scale landworks – “The Sleeping Huts” project with a large bed in each area and a sensory-enriching sleep experience
To see more from Mira, visit her website, and follow her on Instagram @matterology
The Artist/Mother podcast is created and hosted by Kaylan Buteyn. You can see more of Kaylan’s work on her website or connect with her on Instagram @kaylanbuteyn