One of my favorite works of art.
In the fall of 2013, artist Jordan Wolfson moved to Los Angeles to work with a special effects studio on “(Female figure),” an animatronic sculpture that takes the form of an attractive woman, dancing provocatively in the uncanny valley. Dressed in a negligee and bearing scuffs and dirt marks, what Wolfson calls “the dancer” shimmies and gyrates to a pop music soundtrack. Through advanced facial recognition technology, she locks eyes on the viewers behind her, watching them through a mirror to which she is permanently fixed. Her physical presence is in dialogue with the voice of Wolfson, which emanates from her lips between songs, disclosing the secrets of a male identity. According to the New York-based artist, the sculpture is less about the contemporary woman than the contemporary experience of being looked at—and the violence of that objectification.
This little character is very dear to me.
“Bad Pajama Boy” by Mia Makila, 
“Dödsdansen” [The Dance Of Death] by Mia Makila, 2017 [digital collage]
Blood ties woven with heavy strokes. The bruises of the heart, shining like stars above our dance of death.
“The Wound” by Mia Makila, 2017 (mixed media on canvas)
My new painting is finished! I put a lot of work into it and I feel great. This piece is very personal and has a lot of emotions mixed into it.
Here is what the first draft looked like:
My core expression is always found in simplicity, clarity and in the raw, captured emotions i wish to express.
“Post-Mortem Lolita” by Mia Makila, 2017 [digital collage] click to enlarge
I just woke up from a strange dream. I was in an old and abandoned SPA facility with a friend. It looked like a tiled circus tent with bright colors. We looked around and found a staircase to another floor, where an old lady had a dusty record store. There was a door to a garden in the store. I was carrying a naked wax doll into the garden and put it on the grass. Suddenly she came alive and her body became warm and she looked at me with her eyes wide open. She started to scream. I picked her up and held her in my arms. She made resistance. She wanted to escape but I wouldn’t let her. Her heart was beating so fast. She was strong, but I had her locked in my arms. I tried to soothe her and hush her while sitting on the grass with her facing the garden. I could feel it working. Her heartbeats were finally slowing down. “Good girl. Your name is Echo”. I said. Then I woke up. I could write a story based on this dream, it was like a seed to something creative.
Yesterday I spent the whole day in PhotoShop. My wrist is a little sore today. But I am having so much fun. At the moment I am working on two pieces about houses and they will be the last ones. I need one house where my story begins – where my trauma started, The working title is “Genesis”. And then I need one last piece where the story ends. It will be a love tribute to my home with Johnny.
“Out of the Nothing Box” by Mia Makila, 2014 [digital]
I think I am done with the houses now. I started making them in 2014, right after I had left the man and the house in Stockholm. When I became ‘homeless’ in so many ways. I don’t feel homeless anymore. Not in any way. So it’s time to wrap up the digital suite about houses.
I feel like I am entering a new phase in my creativity. My skills are improving so fast and my ideas are bolder and more complex. I am also using more contrasts in my work. It highlights the rawness of my style.
Today is International Women’s Day and I am celebrating it by refusing to be held back by anything or anyone. Not by my critics, not by my fear and not by my own past. When I was living in that house in Stockholm, I felt censored and I held back so much of what was me. It’s very uncomfortable for me to look at my art from that time. They are ridiculously foggy and submissive to the viewer. You can hardly see anything more than a pastel colored mist.
Here is “Tess” from 2012. You can see how I’ve worked up the contrasts in the first version and the original, foggy version:
More foggy works from 2012:
You can almost follow my journey through confidence and bad self-esteem just by looking at the palette in my art. It went from fiery to foggy and now I am all about contrasts.
Work from 2006:
“It’s All In My Head” by Mia Makila, 2006 [mixed media on canvas]
I will rest my wrist today and spend the day doing other things. I just can’t seem to shake off that dream. Echo is hauting my mind.
“The Reader” by Mia Makila, 2017 [digital collage] click to enlarge
I have spent the day with old episodes of Frasier and writing poetry that I will add to my digital art. I’m feeling a bit drained from yesterday’s experience. But I had so much fun up on that stage.
The discussion went smoothly and I made the audience laugh many times. I like making people laugh – even if I am talking about serious matters.
Before the discussion started, some of my horror sisters were swapping recipes of the perfect fake blood and how to stuff animal intestines to make it look even more gross and fabulous. I found it very amusing. “What is the best ‘base blood?'” they asked. And ‘You’ve got to add some Burnt umbra to the Crimson to make the perfect shade of blood when you are painting, otherwise it will just look like ketchup.”
When we were asked about what we consider to more frightening – reality or fantasy, there were no hesitation to state that reality is far more frightening than any horror movie or artistic expression – and that life itself is a very scary concept. Some of us create horror to deal with dark themes found within ourselves – others are celebrating certain aesthetics associated with horror.
When the question about artistic influences came up, I mentioned early renaissance artists like Bosch and Bruegel but also David Lynch and my art crush Edvard Munch. Other girls were inspired by Mary Shelley, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Tim Burton, the symbolists and the PreRaphaelites.
Then we went on discussing the worst horror clichés – I said I can’t stand the asian horror cliché of creepy women with long, black hair – I find hair beautiful and sensual” I said and added: “Perhaps that’s why I make my demons bald”. A few of the girls hated the cliché of the slutty blonde who gets killed early in horror movies and typical scream queens.
When asked whether being a woman in the horror business gives us an advantage or if we experience difficulties because of our gender, I talked about how I feel free to explore raw sexual themes (especially the sexuality of young girls) and perversions without being questioned. I definitely think a man who would do what I do, would have a tougher time. I am not judged as “perverted” or “insane” but rather considered to be “exotic” and “daring”. I love being a woman. And I love exploring the world of horror from a woman’s point of view. So much of my horror is about fear, shame and pain – whilst many male horror artists deal with subjects like rage, violence and intimidation. I think there is a difference between how men and women work with darker themes, but of course there are many exceptions. Some women celebrate vengeance in their horror expressions and aggressive energies – the only aggressive quality to my work is the way I let my vulnerable lolita demons take up space and flaunt their wounds and their pain. I have been censored and suppressed by many men in my life – and through my art I am able to break free and to be loud and say “fuck you!” without being aggressive as a person. It liberates me. I am able to turn my shame into artistic expressions of vulnerability and then it’s easier for me to accept myself and feel more empathetic towards myself. It is my way of healing and recovering from humiliation and submission.
I am happy that I got the opportunity to talk about these things in public – and now I am hungry for more public adventures. This was the starting point in the second chapter of my art career and I finally broke through the wall that’s been standing between me and life outside my studio. From here, anything is possible. And I mean it.
The panel discussion about WOMEN IN HORROR was amazing! I felt a sisterhood to my fellow horror creators and I could have stayed on that stage longer because it was such an inspiring discussion! I also took pictures of other things which inspired me during my two days in Stockholm, I will post them later.
The women in horror included (from left to right): Aurora Walderhaug (horror art, horror comics), me, Ella Moe (horror creator in music, film and art), Valentina Chamorro Westergårdh (horror movie director), Annika Algrot-Andersson (horror photographer and costumer designer) and Sarah Giercksky (horror movie director and enthusiast).
I will write a longer post about what we discussed tomorrow, now I’m just ready to knock out – but I’m feeling happy and proud of myself. (You can find the new post here)
They introduced us as “the finest of female horror artists in Sweden”.
I am so inspired by the photography of Roger Ballen, he is without a doubt my favorite artist right now.
I am taking a couple of days off to just focus on my meditation and making preparations for the panel discussion on Saturday. I have so many thoughts about the horror genre and about why I am making horror art in the first place. It’s funny, because I am not that into the genre in general. I don’t listen to dark music (if you don’t count Bach and Mozart as dark composers), I am not a big fan of horror movies and have never read any horror novels. Although when it comes to visual art, I prefer darker expressions, but it doesn’t have to be horror art. Is Swedish artist Lena Cronqvist making horror art? Roger Ballen? Are the films of David Lynch expressions of horror? Or Bergman movies? Does horror have to be a negative energy? There are so many questions in my head right now.
“Girl in Yellow” by Lena Cronqvist, 1999
I am definitely bursting my own comfort zone by stepping into the arena again. It is both scary and wonderful. I made a new year’s resolution to “find the pulse of life” in 2017 – and I had no idea it would only take a couple of months to find it. Funny how life works.
I got this sweet message from a woman in Russia with a photo of my artwork “Piano” tattooed on her leg!
(click image to enlarge)
“Katla” by Mia Makila, 2006 (acrylic on canvas)
I will create more digital demon portraits. Having fun and experimenting. This is the first draft.
“PHANTOM” by Mia Makila, 2010 [digital]
“The Possession” by Mia Makila, 2017 [digital]
I started to play around in PhotoShop already in 2002 and I practiced a lot for a few year before I got any better. And in 2007 I completed my first digital piece – “The Gathering”. It’s funny how I started out making black and white pieces because I’m working with grey-scales now too.
“The Gathering” by Mia Makila, 2007 [digital]
I have been invited to participate in a panel discussion for WOMEN IN HORROR in Stockholm, early March. I love being an ambassador of horror. More info to come.
Here is the second collaboration piece by me and Candice Angelini.
“No Place Like Home” art collaboration by Mia Makila and Candice Angelini, 2017
“The Strange Girl” by Mia Makila, 2007 [digital]
What a strange night. The church bells kept ringing for an hour. In the morning, I woke up to rain and feeling slightly off. But I’m working again, painting on ‘The Wound’. and coming up with new ideas for more paintings. It’s funny, every time I add hair to my characters, it ruins the whole expression. I can’t do hair for some reason. I ended yesterday’s work with making the character bald and I felt better about it.
Some of my baldies:
“Scrollan” by Mia Makila, 2009, acrylic on canvas
“The Idiot” by Mia Makila, 2016
“Gary the Ghost” by Mia Makila, 2010
And characters with hair:
“His Wet Dream” by Mia Makila (acrylic on wooden panel), 2015
“Death to the American Dream” by Mia Makila, 2008
“Manic Mandy” by Mia Makila, 2013
I’ve been losing a lot of hair this year, due to stress, and it is one of my biggest nightmares to become bald and completely hairless. I love my hair, it makes me feel feminine and beautiful. A lot of my sexuality is in my hair, I don’t know how to explain it.
Perhaps the core expressions – embodied in my demons, have to be as bald as they are bold because they are not about gender, identity or beauty. They are human, deeply intimate – channeling our inner child and spirit and who we are at the core. Something that is real and raw and connects us all. Hair is a superficial part of the human body – I go deeper than that. My demons even lack skin. So to put a fancy hairdo on top of their heads is like decorating a Christmas tree, it takes away from what they want to say. What I want to say. What the core has to say.
Started working on a new piece, “The Wound”.
I feel very flattered and grateful to have been interviewed by the talented art curator/consultant Rosa JH Berland on her amazing blog. It’s always fascinating to get your art analyzed by someone who has a deeper understanding of both art and the human mind since they are so connected. You can read the interview here.
I am not only making research about colonial folk art portraits, I have also started digging deeper into the palette of emotions. As a portrait painter specializing in strong human emotions, it’s important for me to know the nuances of them, not only their basic color. There is a difference between anger, rage and wrath – and between anxiety, fear and terror. Since I’m working mostly with the primitive emotions (like fear, pain, rage and shame), it is crucial that I have a deeper understanding of how they work, express themselves and what their core symbol is to me. For example; I’ve used upside-down crosses to illustrate negative emotions, but without any nuances. It could be fear, anxiety, rage or plain evil:
Yin & Yang
My latest paintings have the expression of rage, defensiveness and protectiveness:
“The Core” by Mia Makila, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 81 x 100 cm
Sperm Wounds (acrylic on canvas)
Compare the expressions to my older paintings, where it wasn’t so much about rage but more about fear, shame and pain:
Bacon Colored Demon
The Mask by Mia Makila, 2009
You can really witness my inner journey by studying my artworks. From the time I was still living the symptoms of PTSD, to dealing with the traumas by facing them – and then slowly overcoming them.
I will be able to tell better stories through my art, express myself more genuinely, if I learn how to work with the palette of emotions. They are the raw material in my art and the core of my creativity.
“The Little Man” by Mia Makila [digital], edition of 5
I dedicate this work to all the narcissists, to all the rapists out there, to men who use violence, macho crap, mind games, abuse women and children, to men who think they are more valuable than other people.