We had the good fortune of connecting with Erin Parish and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erin, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
My focus always has been the work. As an artist working doesn’t end when you leave the studio. It is a lifestyle, a way of literally seeing the world. As an artist one’s works need to be a form of worship. The mysteries of inspiration, of the garnering of the answers to improve or finish a piece, do not come on a schedule or based on proximity to the work. One can sit in the studio all day and not have an essentially productive idea. At this point in time, in comparison to when I was in my twenties and thirties, I spend more time comfortably in dialogue with the work outside of the room in which I make my paintings. It is always there. At this point, I find that time daydreaming, for example, can be a very rich time for inspiration and the flow of ideas. The balance between “work time” and “non-work time” is unlike that of a non-creative person, there is no time in which my brain is not striving to give me information about the paintings. I do not strive to have a distinction between work and life as they are one and the same.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
To be a creative one needs put ones all into it. If it were easy everybody would do it. There are times at which I literally bemoan the difficulty of making non-objective work. To have one’s work noticed is beyond a full-time job. Maybe if there were just a few creatives out there and many sales and exhibition opportunities, one could chill. But the level of competition is ever increasing as there is a notion that it is a lucrative career choice. I went to Bennington College and we had a non-resident term in the winter months. It was the students’ responsibility to gain experience in one’s field and I always went to New York City and worked in galleries, museums, and as an artist assistant. The professors at the school stressed that one’s creative life had to come first. The simplest way to overcome challenges is to put one foot in front of the other and not to worry too much about the outcome. Faith in oneself is essential, yet self-doubt is part of the process in honing the work. What I most want people to see about my career is how influenced I was by the support I received from my parents and their friends. I have never had a day in which artwork was unimportant as I grew up around and in it. Rather than having a Barbie townhouse to play with they gave me high quality art supplies as a child. It began before I can remember. My mom tells a story of putting a big book of Picasso’s work in my playpen which captured my attention so she could paint. I would start to fidget after some time and she would turn the page and I would become reengaged.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
In having people visit Miami for the first time I always take them to Bongos/Larios on Ocean Drive for Cuban food. The architecture of Ocean Drive continues to impress me and my friends are usually interested in architecture. I take them to the Laundromat Art Space where I, as well as about 10 other artists, have my studio. This is in Little Haiti. We have coffee at Ti Georges in the Haitian Community Center. Lunch is usually at an Argentinian restaurant in the neighborhood. Friends get a taste of the diversity of cultures that make up Miami, and makes Miami unlike any other city. A drive through Wynwood is always on the roster for first-timers. The painted walls have continued to evolve over the years and become a palimpsest of cultural references. A visit to the Design District is a good contrast from the boutiques of Wynwood. Prada, Tome Ford, Miu Miu et cetera have done a first-class job of having flagship stores in this neighborhood. As for nightlife, some people enjoy the mega clubs. Don’t Sit on the Furniture is a favorite of mine, as well as Kill your Idols. The Electric Pickle was on the top of my list before it closed.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am fortunate enough to have my parents and my husband on the top of the Shoutout list. My parents and their spouses are all artists, which explains the depth of their understanding of my work and what is necessary. My dad gave me my first studio when I was eleven and I have had one consistently since that time in 1979. It is by my parents’ example that I have learned that one needs to work every day on some aspect of one’s career. My husband is hugely supportive of whatever I need to make the work. During this time of COVID I have taken over one of our bathrooms in our apartment as a temporary studio. I was also using a wall in the living room, at his urging, as a painting space. I express my undying gratitude towards the people in my life who have offered me such tangible, and consistent, support.