The Smell of Our Own is a column where artists interview, or are interviewed by, family members.
In this edition, Joey Clift interviews his mother, Janet Myer. Both are members of Cowlitz Indian Tribe in Washington. The two collaborated to create The American Indian Ready to Wear Catalog, which was a finalist in the Political Zine Category of this year’s Zine Awards. Joey wrote, and Janet illustrated.
Joey Clift: How would you describe your art style?
Janet Myer: Abstract expressionist, I think?
JC: For laymen, what does that mean?
JM: I take realistic things and make them unrealistic. Like musical instruments and stuff.
JC: What was the first point where you felt comfortable telling people “I’m an artist, and that’s what I do.”
JM: When I was in high school, because art is what I did for money. If I wanted to sell my stuff, I had to tell people about it and then show them!
JC: It took me a few years before I felt comfortable telling people that I’m an artist. I mean… a writer.
JC: Haha, thanks. You get what I’m talking about!
JM: Usually when you tell people you’re an artist, they say, “Yeah, right. What do you really do?” They don’t take you seriously, so you have to take yourself seriously.
JC: What was the first moment that you decided that you wanted to be an artist?
JM: You know, I was about four years old and for Christmas I got a big box of art supplies. When I took the lid off the box, my mind just went swirling, because I could just imagine all of the possibilities. That was my favourite Christmas gift I’ve ever gotten and that lit the spark and steered me in the right direction.
JC: I feel like when I was growing up I didn’t appreciate how prolific of an artist you are. Our living room walls were just covered with all of this amazing artwork that would constantly cycle out and I only noticed when friends would comment on how “your mom is such an amazing artist, why don’t you talk about her more?”
JM: Well, honey, you had your own life going on. We’ve all got to find our own way.
JC: So I guess my question is, how are you so prolific?
JM: I spend a lot of time in the studio. It’s like learning to play a musical instrument. You’ve gotta practice. Do some artwork every day. A sketch. A painting. Something!
JC: What’s your favourite thing that you’ve ever painted?
JM: I did one of you. A little watercolour.
JM: I kept it, and I never sold it. It’s a little abstract watercolour. I still have it somewhere.
JC: Wait, is this that Dream Joey one?
JM: Yeah! Dreaming of Joey!
JC: Aw, I’m going to put an asterisk on the article that I did not pay you to say that.
JC: One more question. What’s your favourite joke?
JM: Jokes about farts and poop and stuff.
JM: I like potty humour.
JC: Does it disappoint you that I don’t write more potty humour?
JC: I’m sorry!