We had the good fortune of connecting with Pj Mills and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Pj, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I don’t know if I ever really sat down and decided to become a painter or an artist. The “Arts” more or less chose me by the way I lived my life, the friends I chose, and even the neighborhoods where I lived. When I went to college I studied biology and was in a pre-med curriculum. But then I soon realized that everything I would ever do would have already been done unless I went into research. There was no way I was going down that rabbit hole. And so Art it was. The rest is history.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Pursuing a life as an artist is not for fragile egos. Especially, if your vision is not popular, in demand, or just isn’t pretty. Learning to accept rejection without resentment is fundamental and crucial for survival. Staying focused on a personal vision and not being swayed by outside influences is difficult at best because popular culture is very seductive by its very nature. Being true to yourself is the only thing that has any real importance. My paintings focus on personal possessions the I find curiously engaging. The objects I choose often draw upon images from my Irish Catholic background other times these objects emerge from dreams. Although, my primary concern is with the metaphors that these objects present by themselves, I know the simple juxtaposition of another object may express more complex meanings. Ultimately, it’s really up to the viewer to draw their own conclusions. Common Still life painting or “Vanitas” paintings that were popular in the 17th century Dutch and Flemish often contained hidden allegories in life. They were little paintings with big ideas. These paintings concerned themselves with life, “The Big Story”. My paintings are similar in the sense that they isolate a particular object or group of objects containing some part of history and symbolic references. But the truth is….. I typically ignore historical reference and symbolic references and the object is valued for purely personal reasons. Reasons the viewer may have no clue to the reason of choice. The result often has an element of cognitive dissonance if not absurdity to the reasons behind the selection. The paintings end up drawing attention to the visual metaphors that emerge from the objects and then relate to just an “intimate” human condition. Particulary my personal life. They are metaphors for identity, self preservation, and mortality. The lush depiction of things draw you in only to tell you a different story.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Miami has everything for everybody. Literally. Every BODY! However, if I were to give the key to this city to any stranger I would definitively start in Wynwood. Wynwood has the best food, best people watching, best art, tons of culture, variety beer,…. or you name it! Wynwood has it all. Take an Uber because there are just too many stops to waste time on parking. Then see where that experience takes you. Actually…. take in the whole East Side of Miami in any direction on any day will have enough for anyone!
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 would like to give a shout out to the MacDowell Colony and Cornell University, these organizations believe the best way to support the arts is to just leave them alone, give them space to grow, offer support and respect for the needs required to flourish.
Facebook: Pj Mills