"Art was made for everybody, all of us should have the education to perceive and understand it"

Mirela Cerbu

Visual Artist, Art Teacher, Poet

Romania

Hello Mirela, what do your friends call you?


Let’s begin with a story… my family call me Mina but ever since high school my friends call me Ella… It all started during high school when I went for walk in a park. I saw the name Ella on the sidewalk, scratched with a stick, and I said ‘What a beautiful name Ella is!’ I thought I would like to be called that, and then I asked myself ‘but what if I present myself as Ella?’… I knew that by the age of 18 you could change your name if you wanted, but I wanted to change it earlier… so ever since that day, I have introduced myself as Ella to everybody.


How did you discover your passion for visual arts?


Everything started by accident and I never really thought to follow a vocation in high school. I started to draw when I was little, it was like an ordinary activity for me, just like today kids play video games, for example… I used to like to create my own characters and coloring books, and when I was in school my teacher, who was a passionate young lady, used to enter me into all kinds of art competitions, and every time I left with a prize… And at the end of the 8th grade, she suggested I should continue with the art in high school. I wasn’t convinced that it was what I wanted, as I was thinking of pursuing the path of acting, I had been passionate about literature since my early age when I started to write my first poems and acting scripts, which I performed in my own in my room, playing the different characters at the same time. I performed the good and the bad in the same body. Another contributing reason was that I had been doing gymnastics, ballet and sports dances since the age of 4, I think, and that influenced me a lot.


Another important thing that inspired me to write was some personal events I went through at an early age, this pushed me to take to pen and paper and start expressing myself… Letting out some inner feelings and thoughts in this manner, solved the personal trauma I had to go through on my own. I decided to give myself a chance to study at the high school of arts, and I knew that the admission was split into two parts…One for the grades accumulated and the second was a practical test for which I was very nervous…But at the end I was surprised to see myself first in line with a maximum score. That was the moment I decided to dedicate myself to art.


What was the experience like?


It was a lot of work, and up and down moments… Besides long hours of studies in the studio, I remember in high school when all my friends were meeting up in parks or coffee shops to prepare for the high school exam, I spent my days and nights in the studio by myself, or in my parent’s kitchen, making sketches and drawings. I was dedicated 24 hours a day, even on Saturdays and Sundays. For the graduation exams, I only prepared the day before because I was focused on the final project, which I also had to prepare for the graduation. My graduation project was a book with drawings illustrating one of my own modernist poems.


Ultimately everything went well, and once again I was surprised by my success. But I also realized that with the right amount of work and dedication, you can achieve anything. I never let the bad thoughts get to me and influence my actions. My studies in Segovia and Madrid gave me the opportunity to access different visual arts directions and helped me to really discover myself as a creator in a permanently changing world in the state of continuous visual education.


How you define your artistic practice? What is the concept of your work?


My artistic practice has a lot to do with an experimental approach to art, through which I try to analyze the behavior of different drawings and paintings techniques applied to the composition of simple stain colors and the relation between them; the study of line and the many expressive effects that can be revealing; forms and nonfigurative structures in relation with other elements around; the contrasts between big and small, full and empty, agitated and quiet, a lot and few, short and long, much and some and so on. I’m looking for a specific balance through the transparency and overlays of different elements and also the choice and use of banal motifs like; bananas, heart, flies, jungle, and so on; these motifs are used through a synthesizing and simplification process with the aim of achieving a kind of essence. This is one of my recipes that helps me to build a specific unity of an image. Giving up a traditional imitation of the elements around us, I try a reinterpretative and specific representational manner that is almost conceptual. The stylized motifs embrace the real aspects, where the accent is on the banality motif which is translated almost in a caricature view of the banal, and through different techniques and using spontaneity, I try to work with a different approach of composition, influenced by a specific tension or a rhythm. All of these elements I compose into an image, and the concept of the banal on which I experiment different forms of visual expressivity, I approach different scales and contexts.


I noticed that you are a teacher, can you share with us some of your experiences?


Yes, I am a teacher. I teach arts at a theoretical school here in Romania, a country where it is still being discussed if this subject should be removed, a subject which the students only have once a week. To be honest, in the begging I was very nervous, being only 23 and thinking that the students would not take me seriously because of the narrow difference between us. At the start of the school year, we still had classes physically and some of the students would take me as ‘their colleague,’ they didn’t understand what was happening, thinking I was just a new student… teachers would send me to the classroom, thinking I was a student in 10th grade until they got used to seeing me in the teacher’s lounge…On the other hand, now I can say that I am pleasantly surprised and overwhelmed by my incredibly respectful students, some of them even being curious to learn more, and I cannot say that I was met with any sort of issues.


I believe that visual arts should exist in every school, no matter the subjects you study, because if we look around us, we are surrounded by art, from our bedrooms to the table we eat at, the buildings in the city, the phone we hold in our hands, and so on. All of them are an art form, and this subject, besides the fact that it teaches the eye to perceive some objects differently, also enriches your knowledge from a historical point of view, seeing things that have already happened or are happening as we speak. I do not think that only artists should be visionary people, everybody should stop for a second and investigate the world in depth. Art was made for everybody, in other words, it is for everybody, all of us should have a type of education to perceive and understand it, it is exactly like driving, you cannot start driving on your own without knowing what the brake and gas pedals are.