MH: You described some of the work that you’ve done. Is there a way to describe in general your art practice?
HML: I come up with ideas. For example, right now I have two or three different projects that I’ve set back because I have one project that I’m supposed to be working on. The whole issue is that I try very hard to finish the project I’m working on, and then sometimes I have to take breaks from what I’m doing. So it’s good for me to have something else to do, because once I get really bored I have to just do something else for a while.
Right now, I’m working on this stuffed skeleton, and it’s a project that I’m hoping to get done by September. I started off by working on this with Nora, a teacher here, and we’re collaborating on the project. We drew a picture of what we wanted to make, so it’s basically a skeleton that’s people-sized. And it’s all stuffed felt. So it’s like a big stuffed animal, in a way. It’s turning out pretty interesting to begin with—it’s a lot of detail, a lot more than I thought it was going to be. Just because there’s a point at which you gotta go, ok, there’s only so much perfectionism I can handle. And I’m not a perfectionist! I’m just going to do this the way I do it. I’m a good sewer, but I’m a sewer who just goes “shoop shoop shoop!”
MH: Me too!
HML: And I don’t make patterns, I just cut them out. In my head, I go, this is what I’m cutting. I go, ok, here’s a picture of a skeleton. I want to create this ribcage here, how would I make this out of fabric, stuff it, and make it look like a ribcage? And then I cut it out, sew it together, and try to make it look the way I want it to look. And figure out how I’m going to attach all those things together. Generally, it works out, it’s like a big puzzle in that way. As it goes along, it works out the way I want it to.
A lot of the time, I’m influenced by fabric, I’m influenced by other people’s art, and I’m definitely influenced by other people here. Anything creative is influential to me.
MH: The muscle suit that’s in the show is made of soft materials but the title suggests that it provides strength and is almost an armor. What does that mean to you?
HML: Well, we were going to do a LGBTQ-inspired show right before Covid hit, and one of the things that I came up with is that we’d have passages. From precontemplation to contemplation to commitment. To represent whatever it is I’m trying to figure out in my life, kind of like the transtheoretical stages of change. So I was thinking that this would be an interesting way to bring that across on stage. Maybe we could have bodies that people could try on. I was creating pieces that people could try on and say, ok, I like this, or I don’t like this. And so I got three body suit pieces from it, two for the show and one that I made specifically afterwards because I got such a good reception on it.