Mia Erin Beach is an artist based out of Bloomington, Indiana, where she received an MFA in photography at Indiana University. She has exhibited in both solo and group shows around the Midwest and West Coast, and has been featured in publications in the United States and abroad.
I tend to immerse myself in multiple projects exploring disparate subject matter, but themes of youth are common to much of my work. My inspiration often derives from my childhood custom of creating imaginary worlds. Both of the series Bit Parts and Departures reference the notion of childhood games and perspectives. The photographs in Bit Parts allude to this kind of play, forming scenarios with small objects and photographing them. They also reference the clash of different cultures and eras, and to the interaction of man and his environment. The people are dwarfed by their surroundings, and the pieces are given titles that reflect an ambiguous narrative. Each scene, though it comprises familiar images, is a view into an odd world. By juxtaposing these elements, each scene is meant to both intrigue and amuse the viewer.
Metamours is an ongoing project, a series of portraits taken from 2013 to 2015. I set out to honor interpersonal connections, paying homage to the effect we unintentionally have on other people as we move through our lives. People are affected by those that have impacted their partner’s life. Habits that were created by a partner, in response to a behavior by another person, act as small echoes of those people who were around before us. Rather than view us as entirely discrete individuals, autonomous and unaffected by the messy web created by human relationships, I see these networks of people, these ripples, as essential to who we are. Additionally, people date and don’t find connection, or a reason to remain in each other’s lives, moving on to new people. What does some person have that another lacks? Why Person B and not Person A?
As a photographer, can I put myself in a position that is more vulnerable than my subject? Can I create a portrait of someone with whom I have a complicated relationship, and do so while simultaneously acknowledging the competing needs- the need to create an interesting image with the need to create an image that doesn’t disrespect or exploit my subject? I decided to create a series of portraits, all of people who had slept with people I have slept with. I would not photograph any of my partners, exes, or paramours, and no one I had slept with could be included in the project. I wanted to explore the tenuous and difficult relationship between people who have had a lover in common. Metamours emphasizes the unintentional complication and connection that sex brings to interpersonal relationships. The working title for the series became “Metamours”, a recent neologism, “meta” = with or about, and “amour” = love. It refers to the partner of one's partner, with whom one does not share a direct sexual or loving relationship.
Departures specifically relates to my family and often to my years spent as a runaway during my late teens. While incorporating playful elements, this series focuses on loss and catharsis. My first idea for Departures was derived from a particular memory. At 8 years old, while playing hide and seek in the funeral home that my grandfather owned, I ran into the foot of a corpse lying on a gurney. My grandfather was a coroner for many years, and I sometimes felt guilty that his close association with death was frightening to me. In some ways these feelings colored my world view as a child. The deaths of friends and family are the starting point for the work in this series.
As the mother of three small children, I spend a great deal of time photographing my family. I am drawn to imagery of youth and childhood; childhood tends to be a universally relevant subject matter. Frequently, I feel there is a connection a viewer can feel toward an image of a child that isn’t present in an image of an adult. Children are pliable models, and images of them are often a means of self portraiture.