Interview with an Artist: Leah Solita Mangum @ HabitatBrewing
On January 27th 2017, Habitat Brewing hosted local Asheville artist Leah Solita Mangum on the night of her artist reception. The house was packed with beautiful art, and people. Her art will be available for purchase at the brewery through the end of February.
View more event photos here.
Leah answered some questions for us about her artsy ways. Here's what she had to say....
Habitat Brewing: You come from a creative family. Your mom and dad’s studio, Mangum Pottery, is in Weaverville, NC and it seems as if there’s this familial bond over art. Can you elaborate on how art influenced your upbringing?
Leah: Arts and craft are something I have been exposed to my whole life. Like, it took me 'til I was out of the house at 18 to realize how unique it is to grow up with successful artists as my role models. I have always been more inclined to spend my extra time doing creative activities and listening to music. Creativity was encouraged by my family, but I definitely have always known that it was something I was truly passionate about and wanted to devote my time to.
Habitat Brewing: Were you ever interested in pottery or did you want to forge your own style because throwing pottery is what your parents did?
Leah: I'm currently apprenticing with my family in the pottery studio, so I am developing my clay skills every day. I feel a little bit more passionate about paint as a medium. It's truly hard to pick a medium to focus most of my energy towards, for now I am dabbling in multiple mediums (paint, clay, and leather jewelry) until one seems to take the lead in my life.
Habitat Brewing: We wouldn’t necessarily classify your artwork, these cosmic landscapes, as simply “paintings” because we think they’re more than that…What do you call your pieces that are currently on display at Habitat Brewing?
Leah: The majorty of the work in Habitat Brewing is my installation work that include environmental pieces. They are non-objective representations of earth, space, and energy itself, and intentionally not set in a square or rectangle. I feel they are more than just a painting since they are three-dimensional and defy the standard format of paintings.
Habitat Brewing: Do you have a favorite piece?
Leah: My first response to that question is NO! I LOVE THEM ALL! But the more I think about it, I currently am mostly drawn to the 4' X 4' luna moth piece. It is my most recent piece and probably my most time consuming single piece to date. It was a really therapeutic process and I'm extremely happy with the outcome.
Habitat Brewing: Can you describe the thought process and work flow that went into making these pieces to us?
Leah: I found my process by doing a series of tests to fully understand paint as a medium. I developed a fluid way to use paint and water as a representation of nature. By mixing and pouring various viscosities of paint, they can be used like sediment in a way. I had to learn to let go of controlling paint, and let gravity do its thing. After many experiments with this process, I have found various ways to respond to what nature has to create. In many ways I myself am just a vessel for the medium to recreate imagery from nature. My process lends to the evolution of my work.
Habitat Brewing: What inspires you to make art? Which sources? Is it sporadic or does it stem from a memory?
Leah: Both feminine energy and the natural world tend to be reflected in my work. I usually find meaning for each piece through out my process of creating. It usually seems sporadic when I first start a piece, but by the end of its creation I will begin to be able to see a theme come through that I am addressing in my personal life.
Habitat Brewing: Based on what you’ve seen and heard, what are the general misconceptions people have of young artists?
Leah: The whole"starving artist" misconception is hilarious to me. People are quick to assume that if you are a creator, you are likely to have a hard time being motivated to sell your work. It comes down to how badly you want to make your creations a part of your career, how badly you want your work to be out there in the world for others to respond to. You have to push yourself to hustle all the time. It is hard work, but if you believe in yourself, the right steps start to lay out for you.
Habitat Brewing: Can you tell our local Asheville beer community (and the world) how we connected?
Leah: Instagram! Following some local Asheville groups connected me to a post they had put up, and jumped on it immediately.
psst...(Follow Leah at @solitadesigns and us @habitatbrewing)
Habitat Brewing: What’s your favorite beer?
Leah: Pisgah Pale!
Don't forget to check out Leah's art at our space before it's gone. Hope to see ya soon!