Meet Artist in Residence Ciana Malchione
“Everyone deserves the space and materials to be creative."
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CMA’s inaugural cohort of Artists in Residence are turning the museum into their individual art studios as they develop The Look Make Show, the first digital commons of child-centered on-demand arts education. Below, meet Ciana Malchione, whose paper-cut collages and whimsical art-making videos delight viewers from around the globe.
What attracted you to CMA’s new Artist in Residence program?
I felt that this residency was made for me. My primary creative interests are children’s book illustration and arts education, and this residency was perfectly aligned with both. I felt that making complex topics digestible for a child audience on The Look Make Show would directly benefit my work as a children’s illustrator, and I was excited to further my experience as an educator. I also felt that CMA shared my view of children and their work — that children are artists, that their work and ideas are truly valuable (not in a condescending “isn’t-that-cute” way), and that they deserve a strong arts education. The residency has exceeded all of my expectations.
Can you tell us about your art practice and how working with children inspires you?
My art practice is very connected to children. I want to illustrate children’s books, so most of my work is geared toward a child audience. I’m also currently working in the former stART Studio at the museum, a space where young children made messy art. There’s paint splattered everywhere and children’s artwork all over the walls. Most of them are colorful assemblages made with found materials (pine cones, building blocks, sea shells, etc.), which is super aligned with my own work as a collage illustrator. Whenever my eye wanders, I find myself staring at a piece made by children. Working in this context has made me more playful and curious.
Do you have a favorite memory of making art as a child?
I remember sitting on our living room floor at about 5 or 6 and drawing pen portraits of my parents. My step-dad’s was hilariously inaccurate, with hair that looked glued on. It made us all crack up laughing. Then I drew my mom. And there she was. She was so present in that drawing that it took us both by surprise. I still have it somewhere. It’s on a piece of green scrap paper.
What advice would you give to young artists who wish to pursue an art practice?
Follow your interests. If you like whittling, do more of that. If you like painting, do more of that. Don’t force anything. Just follow your genuine interests and keep making things. That’s all it takes to have an art practice.
Why is it important to make art accessible to all children and families?
Art and art-making don’t belong to the elite, or to any particular demographic. It’s a fundamental part of all human life, and everyone deserves the space and materials to be creative. I think we also need to expand our understanding of art to include all modes of creative tinkering. CMA posits that all children are artists, and I agree with that.
If you could choose any artist to create a portrait of yourself, who would it be and why?
Alice Neel is my favorite portrait artist. I think her paintings are charming and funny, but also honest. They’re rarely flattering, and have a way of accessing something vulnerable and goofy in the sitter. I’d be curious to see what she found in me.