When Mira told me about wanting to become an artist, she was barely 20. But it was easy to see this kid’s got magic. Her signature is strong from the get-go. She knows who she is and what she likes. Her subjects are always interesting and it’s thrilling to see what goes on in her head.
I’ve known so many people with talent and potential but have done nothing but daydream. It would be such a waste if she did the same, so I really wanted her to go for it.
“Start drawing and get a portfolio going. Travel.”
Well, she did so much more than that. She worked hard and has since exhibited internationally, all in only a few years after her debut.
Please introduce yourself. Who is Mira?
I’m Margaret Mary aka Mira. 23. Studied Landscape Architecture for 3 years. Self-taught artist.
Why do you do what you do? What motivates you to do it?
I remember looking at a charcoal drawing by Guy Denning back in 2011. The painting was dark, filled with emotions, deformed and I just loved everything about it. So, I started doing sketches and continued to be inspired by other artists that pushed me to new styles and mediums.
Everyone’s creative process is different. What do you do to get in the zone? Do you have a creative ritual?
I’m hugely inspired by the Bornean culture and how women in those days embraced their ethnicity so effortlessly. Whenever I draw/paint, I try to portray their beauty, femininity, and softness in their faces with my own approach. There’s just so much grace and authenticity.
What are the highlights of your life, or career over the past 12 months?
Solo exhibition at the B Side and I also joined an exhibition in Tokyo with other artists.
What are some of the obstacles that have come your way?
To be real with you, I find it hard to break through the art scene. It’s not something that is easy. You do need good connections to showcase your art and to establish yourself as a full-time artist. Right now, I can’t devote my time to creating art as much as I’d like to due to other commitments.
What was the most powerful, or moving “letting go” experience you’ve had so far?
Everyone has to let go at some point to be able to move on. Letting go of a lover, an enemy, a bad past, a good past. It doesn’t have to be about letting go of the bad only but it is also about the good ones.
Today, what does “letting go” mean to you?
Today, letting go means a lot deeper to me. I’ve just lost the most amazing person… my brother. It’s not something easy to let go of because the grief will always stay with me. I still can’t grasp the reality of it until today. It is an ongoing process of accepting his physical absence. But what I’ve learned about letting go is to be vulnerable with my feelings. To just be honest with myself. It’s a process. After all, we’re only human.
Life’s unpredictable, things change and we evolve with it constantly. But what’s one thing, other than art, you will never give up or let go of?
I will always be proud of my ethnicity. I love my culture and my Kadazan roots. It’s so colorful, vibrant and I am glad that I can express it through my drawings but I would love to look and experiment with more inspiration in the near future. I hope that the younger generation will learn to appreciate their culture and to see that there is nothing wrong with embracing it.
What is your dream project?
I would really love to get more inspiration from the Bornean ethnic groups. For example, the meaning of the patterns, tattoos on the bodies of the Sarawakian tribes, venturing out to different parts of Borneo and to see what it has to offer.
What is your message to the world?
Do what you love which will enable you to breathe again.
I’d like to make it clear that my struggle was mostly caused by my own insecurities. I started doubting myself and cared too much about acceptance as I equate it to my work’s value. But Kota Kinabalu’s art scene is not doomed; I now realize that people in Kota Kinabalu are so hungry for something new. They long to be entertained and inspired. All I had to do was be sincere and be myself. Everyone’s quite respectful and encouraging. Opportunities are abundant and there is no better time than now to become a pioneer in Kota Kinabalu’s budding art scene. I hope this interview with Mira will inspire you to get out of your shell and demonstrate your desire to create art. Whatever it is that you want to do, go out and commit yourself to doing whatever’s necessary to achieve that end. Do it because unless you give it a try, you’ll never know where your passion will take you. At the risk of sounding clichéd, it’s like what Corin Nemec once said, “Never let life impede your ability to manifest your dreams. Dig deeper into your dreams and deeper into yourself and believe that anything is possible, and make it happen.”
To follow Mira’s journey and see her world, check out @mirahector on Instagram.