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‘Exquisite Familiar’ Artist: Mia Rana

Mia Rana is one of our ‘The Exquisite Familiar’ artists. ‘The Exquisite Familiar’ is an Access2Arts project that sees a group of eleven South Australian disabled artists, both emerging and established, working together through multiple workshops and mediums to create powerful collaborative art. This art is then exhibited at the Art Gallery of South Australia and MOD., placing disabled artists firmly and proudly in prominent institutions.

What was the inspiration for your uncanny creatures?

The goal for my creatures was to make them as weird as possible! So, I tried to take inspiration from anything I could. This includes my pets (who you could say are like our real-life familiars), and any uncanny combinations I could think up. This resulted in a mash-up of all different types of animal and human parts, which was really fun to work on.

A black and white illustration of a winged creature with a human head and four legs.

Tell me a bit about yourself and your artistic practice.

I have had a strong love for the visual arts for as long as I can remember, and I now work primarily as an oil painter. My current practice has been focused on creating surreal imagery, mostly derived from imagination, where figures emerge from abstraction or dream-like settings to explore recurring themes of femininity and the complexities of the human experience from an autobiographical perspective.

Where do you find inspiration?

As my work is largely autobiographical, I take a lot of inspiration from my everyday life, past and present. Lately I’ve been looking more inwards for inspiration, rather than outwards, so a lot of my work is expressing and reflecting on my inner emotions, ideas, and experiences.

How does your disability influence your craft?

Being a visually impaired person and working in the visual arts can definitely have its challenges, however I’ve found ways to accommodate myself to the best of my abilities, allowing me to still enjoy my craft. For example, I almost always paint on a large scale, not only because I love the immersive experience of a larger artwork, but also because it’s much more comfortable for me to work on and allows me to paint things I otherwise couldn’t on a smaller scale. I also enjoy working in a looser, painterly manner for this same reason. Sometimes I like to think of this looseness as a metaphor for the way I see.

I’m grateful to have been for the most part very supported to pursue my passion for visual art, despite my disability, which is so important. All disabled people should be given the opportunities and encouragement to pursue their goals, regardless of what others believe we’re capable of.

Read more of The Exquisite Familiar artist interviews here.