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Meet Carmen Menza of Menza Art Studio in Central

Today we’d like to introduce you to Carmen Menza.

Carmen, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Music was always my first love and so I started with a degree in audio engineering. With that degree, I found my way into broadcast television, initially in the audio department but then quickly migrating to editing, graphics design and directing. I created designs for local and national NBC affiliates, ABC affiliates, Virtuoso, and American Airlines.

While working as an independent, I put myself through school and received my BFA in jazz guitar performance from the University of North Texas. I had a band for a time, a personal project that was more rock and pop. I worked with some incredible musicians and was really thankful for those years and experience. A number of years ago, I decided to concentrate my efforts in the area of visual arts. I started showing my work in various shows and through my friendships in the local Dallas art scene, I was introduced to light-based art. I saw the potential for doing immersive work that combined my love for both music and video.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Life as an independent artist is rarely smooth. It has its’ struggles and challenges but each struggle is an opportunity to learn and build upon. I think one of the most important things for an artist is communication. I am always thinking about how to articulate my creative vision and communicate in ways that are effective to the viewer. Being able to speak about my work, both verbally and in written form is essential. In the past, I’ve been somewhat shy about speaking about my work so this has been something I have had to work on. You cannot always assume the art will “speak for itself”. Teaching myself to be a better artist with each project, to have an ongoing commitment to learning and to think creatively and solve problems as they arise during installations is key. And surrounding myself with others who are positive and have a deep passion is so important. Who you surround yourself with is who you become.

Menza Art Studio – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am an interdisciplinary artist whose practice spans video, light sculptures, music and public art installations focusing on generative visuals and sound. I have been honored to have my films screened at the Dallas International Film Festival, Experiments in Cinema Festival, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Dallas Aurora, Dallas VideoFest and on PBS/KERA. My software based light work is part of the permanent collection at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary Museum in Dallas. I have had the opportunity to exhibit with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Soluna Festival, the Dallas Aurora Light Festival, The Women’s Museum, Dallas, TX, The Museum of Geometric and MADI Art, Dallas, TX in addition to numerous group and solo shows. I would say that I specialize in light-based work. Sculptural light boxes that hang in residential and commercial spaces to large immersive public installations that include visuals and music. Often my work involves the viewer in some form. I like the idea of the audience having a part in my installation based work. In my “The Theory of Chance” work for Aurora Dallas 2015, I used improvisation and community involvement by releasing the music ahead of the scheduled event and inviting local musicians to then join us on stage the night of the event with their own improvisation.

Each musician’s note choices were also influencing the video aspect of the work as the piece was generative, meaning that the visuals were responsive to the audio input. In the recent Soluna Festival/Array work titled “Staring at the Sun” the work was interactive. A camera would detect a person standing in front of it and then that person could control the movement and palette animation of the work. The work was also audio responsive with a custom soundtrack composed for it. With my 2011 piece for Aurora Dallas titled “Wish” it was subtractive. Each viewer to that installation took a piece of the work with them and at the end of the evening, my work did not exist at the site anymore but rather in the hands of each who left.

Who else deserves credit – have you had mentors, supporters, cheerleaders, advocates, clients or teammates that have played a big role in your success or the success of the business? If so – who are they and what role did they plan / how did they help.
Yes, of course, so many to list here, I really would hate to leave anyone out. I can tell you it was those who at the beginning of my career took an interest and showed my work, those who are cheerleaders for me, those who are connectors and have a huge passion for just introducing me to someone else who I then work with, those curators who select my work for shows, those who help in the technology and programming realm, those who write about my work, those who are my friends and acquaintances. It’s a multitude of individuals all along the way. If I had to single out one person though it would be my husband Mark Menza. He is also an independent artist, a composer for tv and film, so he kind of gets the whole self-employed/artist model. There has not been another person in my career so pivotal in helping me push past my fears and continue to grow as an artist.

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Image Credit:
Carmen Menza

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