A Trip Through Nostalgia with Mindy Sue Meyers

A conversation with The CAMP's Artist of the Month, February 2023
February 15, 2023
Mindy Sue Meyers. Courtesy of the artist.
Mindy Sue Meyers. Courtesy of the artist.
Mindy Sue Meyers invites viewers to travel through time, not to rehash or do-over, but to preserve what lives inside of them. Through sculptural and textile-based assemblages of toys, ephemera, fabric, and trinkets, Meyers evokes memories of bygone eras with humor and sentimentality.
“This variety of materials resonates with my childhood history of building collections and searching for comfort among my possessions. With a heavy 80’s and 90’s pop culture aesthetic, I encourage the connection my work has to the past and I hope to preserve a link to the nostalgia it creates. Each finished piece is an invitation for viewers to discover something from their own childhoods and sustain precious memories.”
Mindy Sue Meyers. "Like Totally Call Me," 2023. Telephone, Toys, Gorilla Glue. 27 x 14 x 5 in.
When did you know that you were an artist?
I was always interested in making things ever since I was a little girl.  I had a big imagination and always loved playing with materials and building stuff.  I would come up with stories with my toys and spend hours building worlds they could live in.  
Is there an artist that you feel inspired you to become an artist? If so, who and how?
Louise Bourgeois. Her work lit a fire in my art heart when I was a young college student, and that fire is still burning.  I love her. I named my daughter Louise for Louise Bourgeois. 
I love how she approached art making.  She made so much work and she made it with so many different materials. She taught me that I didn’t have to be married to one material.  I wish I could have met her.  I think of her work often. 
“I am not what I am, I am what I do with my hands.” LB.  LOVE HER. 
Why do toys and found objects make up so much of your works?
My work explores the bittersweet heartache of nostalgia.  I use toys and found objects for their pop culture popularity and essence of kitsch, knowing that lots of people can connect and resonate with the idea of loving something that was such a big part of your life.  My toys were my best friends growing up.  Being a child of divorce, I relied on my imagination and my toys to comfort me. Some of my favorite childhood memories are settled into objects from Happy Meals, pillowcases with characters, and toys from the toy aisles of department stores. The grief I experienced as a child is wrapped in tender loving care by toys and tv characters and musicians. I use a lot of New Kids on the Block ephemera because they were a big part of my childhood soundtrack.  
I realize that not everybody will have the same nostalgic ties to some of the imagery I use, but I know that everyone can resonate with what they were attached to as children.  I make all my work for 8-year-old Mindy, who still lives in my heart.  And because I approach art-making this way, my art heart and my childhood heart are fulfilled. 
What is the most important thing you have learned about being an artist? 
The most important thing I learned about being an artist is to make work. To make a lot of work and to make work that I feel connected to and to make work that I LOVE. All the work I make is for me and my eight-year-old Mindy heart and if other people can connect with it and find a little magic moment then GREAT!  
"Happy Meal Bracelet" 2023. Plastic Bracelet, Figurines, Gorilla Glue7 x 7.5 x 8.5 in.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in time traveling through old magazines and toy advertisements, watching vhs tapes, listening to cassette tapes, and connecting with folks over the objects they collected as children. I also get inspiration from watching how my daughter collects things, organizes her treasures, and plays.  Getting to observe her reminds me so much of myself at her age and brings a different kind of nostalgic pain as her mother watching her grow. 
Which is or was your favorite piece of your art?
My current favorites are the sticker posters. They are so much fun to make, and I love the abundance the stickers create with the imagery on the surface. They feel maximalist and little reckless.  
Which is your favorite Museum and why? 
The John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  I love this place because it’s a magnificent treasure tucked into a beautiful town off the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin.  It is such a treat for rural Midwesterners as the JMKAC hosts incredible exhibitions and artist opportunities including a residency program.  As a college kid from small northern midwestern town, having access to this art space was so inspiring.  I still love to visit and get lost for a moment in marveling at the work. 
What do you want the viewer to gain when encountering your work?
My goal is that the viewer will consider nostalgia, memory, and why certain things from our past can really tug on our heartstrings.  I hope that view makes a connection with my work and leaves thinking about what kind objects got them through their childhood. 
What is your favorite color, and why?
BUBBLE GUM PINK because duh.  It’s the best color!  
 "Ring Pop Big Beads" 2023. Ring Pop Base, Felt, Thread, Fiberfill, Beads5 x 2.5 x 2.5 in.
Do you have a routine when creating art?
I typically start my studio time by making a cup of coffee and popping in an old vhs tape, turning on music, or listening to an audio book.  Have the background noise helps me concentrate.
How does music play a role?
Yes!  I love to listen to 80’s music in the studio, anything that helps me time travel back to my childhood. I’ll shuffle playlists or pop a cassette tape into my old boombox. I love Guns n Roses, New Kids on the Block, Paula Abdul, Tiffany, Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Debbie Gibson, The Cure, Depeche Mode… 80’s rock and pop! I also love Stevie Nicks and anything by Fleetwood Mac. 
If you could invite 4 artists from history to dinner, who would they be, what would you ask them and what would you serve them? 
This is such a QUESTION! Oh boy, I’d invite Mike Kelley, Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse, and Yayoi Kusama. 
I would ask them to dinner in my studio and I would serve them a buffet of my favorite foods I loved as a child including: sloppy joes, Kool Aid, fruit roll ups, puddin’ pops, Tater Skins, Dunkaroo’s, bologna sandwiches, pop tarts, Butterfingers, corn dogs, white rice with butter and Cherry Coke. I would have the fancy Vienetta ice cream dessert that looks like white lasagna. And I would have a dish of Certs for afterwards. If you know, you know. This is a very generation xiennial spread. 
I would ask them all about their processes, how they used their studio time and balanced their art careers with other aspects of their life. I would want to hear about their lives, experiences, and what makes them laugh, what music they listen to, favorite book and what they do when they feel like ugh, why am I an artist… if they ever had that feeling.  I would eat up every second listening to anything they would share with me. I would take a selfie of us all together and then I would glue it to a poser board and surround it with stickers so I would always have a memory of this very special, bizarre dinner. 

About the author

Maria Di Giammarco

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