We had the good fortune of connecting with Mads Pennisi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mads, let’s start by talking about what inspires you?
I get a good chunk of inspiration from old, cluttered spaces like antique malls and museums. There’s a word for this: “horror vacui”, or “fear of empty space”. My room is similarly cluttered with postcards, Cold War memorabilia, anime figurines, and random objects I’ve collected from friends and family. Recently, I’ve gotten plenty of ideas from Neocities (a play on Geocities), where users can build their own websites; old internet style. Each site has so much personality and creativity, it’s a unique way for artists to showcase their work as long as you know some html.
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.
I’m an Intermedia Arts graduate of Arizona State University. My graduation was definitely not normal, (this was the beginning of COVID after all) there was no celebration, and my senior show was cancelled (boo), but I still made the most of it. Because everyone was forced inside, I decided to start teaching myself basic HTML and CSS to make my own art website on Neocities (which can be viewed here https://atomicgothic.neocities.org/). I thought, if people can’t go to my physical art show, I might as well make a virtual one. While in school, I studied stop motion animation, experimental video art, and zine making, among other things. This animation, which took nearly a year and many hours of puppet construction, best highlights my love for the medium. For a while I struggled with the stories I wanted to tell. Should they be serious? Should they invoke social change? I felt lost, especially when my colleagues were making very powerful, contemplative work. That wasn’t the type of artwork I wanted to make, and I felt isolated having these silly characters and ideas. Still, I listened to my gut when I made this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2OAM-gq3Xg&ab_channel=MadPenny) which I adore for being awkward and kinda weird. When I took my first stop motion animation class, I finally found other students who could relate to me. I guess I’d like the world to know it’s okay to be where you’re at right now, and for having the interests you have, even if no one else has them.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Papago Park in Tempe is a nice little hike and only 5 minutes from downtown Mill Avenue! Also in Tempe is one of my favorite antique stores, called Antique Trove. If you’re looking to broaden your zine collection, Wasted Ink Zine Distro in Phoenix is also a nice stop, though you’ll have to make an appointment to visit their store. If you have more time and are looking to visit Tucson, the Pima Air and Space Museum has a massive collection of historical aircraft. This place is a huge source of inspiration for me, as is the Titan Missile Museum, though I think they’re closed at the moment due to COVID.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Of course, all my amazing art buds from Arizona State University, including Hannah, (@Augury.Artifice on Instagram), my buddy Merit (@Meriteads on Instagram), and Cassidy (@Willowswitch on Instagram) and also Paige (Ice_Age_Paige on Instagram). My parents and my boyfriend also deserve a shoutout for keeping me sane.