Mireya Schoo‘s artwork spoke to me the first time I saw it because of the vibrant colors she usually uses and her frequent use of found items to produce mixed media pieces. She is relatively new to the Central Ohio art scene but is working hard to get her name out there. We finally got to meet in person In August at Gahanna City Hall where she had a solo exhibit. Her fascinating bio and tenaciousness makes for a pretty awesome interview so let’s get started!
Her career has varied over the years but has always focused on artistic works. She has worked as a dance instructor and choreographer, had a parallel career in visual arts and language arts and danced full time. Her work has led to travel around the world in order to create. However, for a period of time she had to stop painting while dancing full time being forced to choose between painting and dancing.
Mireya (pronounced me-ray-yah with a trill on the /r/!) was born in Mexico but grew up traveling throughout Europe with an internationally known dance company. Born in a family with an art background: music, art, and language arts, her parents reluctantly understood and encouraged her to follow her passion for dancing at the age of 8 years. Then, after auditioning for the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico de Auralia Hernandez, at the age of 14, she was accepted into the company and began to travel throughout the world–Italy, Spain, France, Ethiopia, Egypt, Jordan and more! Because her father was a journalist and traveled frequently himself, her family chose Italy as a home base to visit each summer at their farm in Turin Italy. there they had the time to relax, have holidays and be a family. However, the rest of the year was spent with 5 hour-a-day dance rehearsals, schooling with traveling tutors, more rehearsing and performances. As she puts it, this was a sacrifice for everyone in her family…her parents because they spent so much time away from her (she has 4 siblings) and for Mireya because she never had a true childhood. Rather, she was very disciplined with her chosen career. Needless to say, there were frequent tears for all!!! And because of the extreme competitiveness of dance, she did not make many friends… “I made enemies”…because soloist positions were coveted by all (usually only 4-5 soloists were chosen out of a troupe of over 600 dancers!) and Mireya was talented enough to be chosen for this honor.
Every year, she would promise her family that it would be her last but the reality was that she continued dancing with this company until the age of 18. At that time, she auditioned for a troupe in Japan and went there to live and work for one year. Unfortunately for her career (but fortunately for her family!), the troupe was not a good fit and she chose to return to Mexico (Cancun) where she opened a dance studio, had a TV program (in black & white!!!), worked for the universities teaching dance and had over 200 students and was only in her 20’s!!!! Quite the determined woman!
Along with numerous art classes with artist Mario Trejo, this young woman also attended art school at La Esmeralda in Mexico City. However, the stress and commitment involved in being in the dance company led to her having to drop out, choose her priorities and put her energies into just one area of the arts. Working with Trejo was extremely instrumental in the direction Mireya’s art went over the following years, his techniques, his use of anything to make art and his flair for the abstract. And painting became a stress reliever for her throughout her dance career.
Around that same time, she met her first hubby and married while continuing to dance with another company. She was extremely successful in her endeavors but also wanted a family. So, despite doctors telling her that she would most likely NOT conceive due to the rigors of dance and the wear and tear on her young body, she did became pregnant, spent 8 months in bed and had a son while in her 30’s. Eventually, having a child ended her marriage and after meeting someone else in she chose to move to the US. Not an easy decision as the father of her son did not want her to move so gave her an ultimatum…give me custody of our son or give me everything else! I think you can figure out what her decision was…she kept her son and lost her home. She has never regretted THAT decision.
Next, she moved to Findley Ohio and worked at the University of Findley teaching dance and opened a studio. She still had her studio and 11 stores in Cancun so she was managing all of this while also raising a son and remarrying. Tenacious would you say??? YES! However, two hurricanes destroyed her businesses in Cancun…she and her family rebuilt after the first one but then Hurricane Wilma hit and the loss was too much to recover from. Soooo, on to Plan B. She stayed in Findley for around 8 years at which time she once again got divorced and wanted to move back to Mexico. However, her son felt that Ohio was his home and eventually that led to him to attending OSU with mom “going away to college” with him!
On to the next adventure! She moved to Columbus and began attending Columbus State where she finally had the opportunity to obtain a degree in hospitality which she explains was very easy for her as she felt she could teach the classes after all of her years traveling and staying in hotels. Finally, she had a degree but that was not enough for her because wherever she lives “Give me a class!” So now she is taking classes with Core Yoga to become an instructor when they open studios in Easton combining yoga and art activities…something that she also says is easy for her as she has made yoga a lifelong practice.
Although she would prefer to paint as a lifestyle, she is still working as medical and legal interpreter (she speaks Italian, Spanish and French in order to pay the bills. ‘I would love to paint and make a living from what I love to do. The way I did it with my dance career.’
Abstract, impressionist, and expressionist describes her pieces. Currently, she is working in a fusion of Visual Arts and Dance. She likes to create collage with up-cycle materials and mixed media working with any material available: glass, fabrics, cables, wood, branches, salt, coffee, and Jewelry.
Inspiration comes from many things. As she states:
Life is my main inspiration, I will create as long as I am alive. I’m inspired by strong emotions. Sometimes I’m so happy that my painting can talk about my feeling, cheerful colors and lots of movement. In another moment I’m so sad that all paint is in black and white.Beautiful things are good source of inspiration. With my dance background, I’m inspired by dance movement, costumes, and postures. I have create a new body of work called “Never Stop Moving” I am also inspired by dancers and personalities in the dance world and visual arts.
In the last year, she has been one crazily driven busy lady!!! First, she started a show at Shadowbox called “Never Stop Moving” where she choreographs dances that are inspired by her pieces featuring dancers. She has been doing that for about 6 months with plans to continue throughout this year and into next. She has been a resident artist at Griffin Gallery in Gahanna and hopes to become a resident at a gallery to soon open in Bexley. She does solo exhibits both locally and internationally, has a virtual store on her website www.mireyaschoo.com and sells at Fine Art America, and Etsy.com. She also participated in the Gahanna Jazz & Blues Festival in June, Summer Jam Westgate in July and had a solo exhibit at Gahanna City Hall in July/August. One of her paintings was selected the best of the show at Columbus State graduation show in the summer of 2013 and she has been given international recognition in her native country of Mexico as a Latin artist in America. WHEW! I’m tired just hearing about all that she has done and wants to continue doing!!!!
The future looks bright too as she will have a solo exhibit at the Loft Gallery at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center in January, 2016 and if all works out and she gets the sponsorship, she will have an exhibit with RAW in Japan this year. In addition, she teaches art classes with her brand “Wine and Art with Mireya Schoo” and will once again have a solo exhibit at City Hall of Gahanna in January/February 2016. And she has become the resident artist at the soon-to-be-open Music Pallet at 1031 College Ave. Bexley Oh 43209.
I’m struggling to continue this career, nothing is easy but not impossible.I also struggle with finding balance as I like to give 100% to my family, painting and dancing! I will Never Stop Moving! And, as you can see, she lives up to the name of her show!
p.s. and she gave me this beautiful painting as a thank you for the interview!!! Lucky me!!
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