We had the good fortune of connecting with Marina Shaltout and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marina, can you share with us a lesson you’ve learned from someone important in your life?
My father taught me one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned, which is how to embrace a negative outcome with dignity, grace, and resilience. When faced with doubt or uncertainty, he has always challenged me to imagine myself in the worst case scenario, and then to work backwards from there. Instead of just saying this, though, he would actually encourage me to verbalize what my life might look like if I didn’t get that job, that exhibition, that acceptance letter, etc. From there, he would help me work through every other possible outcome above that. This lesson of practicality has always helped me get through trying times and to look forward to personal life changes, even if they might seem less than satisfactory. It’s so important to be mindful in these situations and to weigh out all variables of the outcome. Upon doing this, things are never as bad as they might initially seem.
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 am a multimedia artist who works primarily with video, sculpture, and installation. I use my artwork to re-imagine proverbial female narratives and I use humor as a vehicle to get there. Reflecting on stories in which women have been misrepresented, I stage and re-stage narratives that draw attention to the absurdity of these historical, cultural, mythological, and cinematic accounts. For example, I re-tell the story of Eve as a hybrid snake-woman who lazily relaxes all afternoon while eating store-bought apples directly from a bag. I also tell the story of a female werewolf who takes a sledgehammer to her vanity table while PMSing during the full moon. I’m really interested in the dualistic spaces of what our society expects women to be: good vs. evil, creator vs. destroyer, sub-human vs. super-human. I think parody can be a really powerful tool to highlight the irony in such disparities, especially as an artist. Once I began exploring this type of work, something amazing happened. I realized that I was funneling all of my feminine rage into something not only constructive for myself, but something that other women could relate to. I’ve had the opportunity to use my past traumas as fuel for a fire that’s much bigger than just me. My art has received so much appraisal from my fellow female artists, who understand exactly what I’m doing and the stories that I’m telling. And that is what I’m most excited about. I’m excited about the synergistic relationship between myself and other artists, between myself and my students, between myself and the world. I just received my MFA from the University of Arizona. amidst complications due to COVID-19. Our thesis exhibition and graduation ceremony were both cancelled, which has been really hard to digest. I allowed myself to cycle through all the emotions that I needed to feel, but now I’m back to avidly searching for my next opportunity. If I’ve learned anything as an artist, it’s to use rejections, failures, and traumas as motivation. Sometimes you have to throw everything in the fire, watch it burn, and see what grows from the ashes.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love itineraries! A visit to Tucson wouldn’t be complete without local coffee, hiking, desert drives, and lots of food. If I had some one visiting from out of town for a week, I would schedule their visit like this: Day 1: Time Market, drive to Saguaro National Park, explore 4th Ave, dinner at Tall Boys, games & beer at Casa Film Bar Day 2: Cartel Coffee, visit Tucson Botanical Gardens, drive up Mt. Lemmon for hike, dinner at Tumerico Day 3: Presta Coffee Roasters, hike Sentinel Peak, explore Mercado San Augustin, dinner at Seis, movie at The Loft Cinema Day 4: Prest Coffee & Juice, trip to Mission San Xavier, dinner and live music at Monterey Court Day 5: Coffee Times, hike Tanque Verde Falls, evening visit to Tanque Verde Swap Meet, dinner at La Cocina Day 6: Day trip to Bisbee, AZ Day 7: Day/overnight trip to Globe, AZ (taking AZ highway 77, of course!)
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My family, my partner Jared, the University of Arizona College of Fine Arts, my thesis committee, and all of the amazing female artists who inspire me everyday.
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