Berkeley, California native, Seren Moran, graduated from San Diego State University with a BA and will soon continue her studies to achieve an MFA. With no formal training, she spent years collaging everything from furniture to walls. She’s well-traveled and those experiences are represented in her work.
MamaProud: You sketch and paint. Do you have a preferred style?
Seren Moran: Definitely, painting. Really the only reason I sketch is to get warmed up, release thoughts and ideas, or when painting isn’t convenient. While I was traveling in Europe I filled several sketchbooks, but did far less painting. It’s much cashier to carry a sketchbook than an easel and pallet.
MP: I took a look at your website. The series on your father made an impression. Does your personal life drive your work?
SM: Yes, almost entirely. My paintings are a direct reflection of my life, and there really isn’t any getting around that. A professor (Janet Cooling) once told me that there is no use in worrying about having a “style” because you are your style, no matter what you paint or how you paint it, it will be your style.
But in response to my father series, the moments of my life filled with the most emotional intensity, both good and bad, are the moments that drive my work. And my relationship with my father is one filled with intensity both exceptional and painful.
MP: What were your first attempts at being creative?
SM: I have been creative since I can remember. My brother and I were constantly encouraged to express ourselves artistically from an early age. My mother is an artist at heart and always gave us all kinds of materials and opportunities to be creative from drawing and painting, to collage, music, dance, and theatre. My brother, Michael Moran, is also an artist, he is an actor, playwright, and director, currently living and working in Chicago. It’s no coincidence we both chose artistic paths. In some ways we bounce off of each other’s creativity.
MP: About your background, how did/does your family and Berkeley influence your creativity?
SM: Well, growing up in the Bay Area, I have constantly been exposed to all kinds of diversity, in ethnicity, religion, sexual preference, political and cultural views. The Bay Area is an especially innovative and creative place filled with educated and passionate people from all over the world. It wasn’t until I moved away from the bay area that I realized how fortunate I was to have been exposed to such a large variety of experiences and people.
My mother has hosted over twenty exchange students from all over the world for the last ten years. Living with people around the world, as well as my own experience living in Europe has certainly had an impact on both my artistic and life choices. I am currently working on a very large painting composed of portraits of people in my life who were born in different countries.
MP: What are your artistic goals?
SM: Gosh, I feel like there are so many things I want to do, artistic and otherwise. Mainly I want to keep painting…forever. I’m not interested in fame, but I do want to be appreciated. The way I see it there are two parts to art, one in which the artwork is created, and one when the art is experienced by others. So I do hope that not only will I continue to paint, but that people will continue to see my work.
I also have a love for teaching, I have been teaching children and teens for the past five years, and the more I teach the more I love it. I plan on getting my MFA in the upcoming years, and hopefully becoming an Art Professor at some point later on. But for now I’m mainly focused on improving myself as a painter.
MP: What are your inspirations?
SM: Chuck Close once said: “inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work, if you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lighting to strike you in the brain, you aren’t going to get a lot of work done.” I think there is a lot of truth in what he’s saying. That isn’t to say that inspiration doesn’t exist, it most certainly does. I have had moments where, as Chuck Close would say, the lightning strikes and clouds part, but those moments aren’t what keep me painting, those moments are the magical additions to the work I have already started.
MP: What is the greatest compliment you’ve received/greatest insult with regard to your work?
SM: That’s a difficult question, I’ve gotten a lot of both insults and compliments in regards to my work. I’m not sure if this is the worst or best thing someone has said about my work, but it’s what comes to mind. Once when I was painting alone in the studio at the University a man walked in and looked at some of the paintings I was working on. At that time, I was beginning to experiment with abstraction, doing the first really expressionist works I had ever done and I was pretty unsure about it, constantly trying to trust my intuition. The man looked at them for several minutes and then said, “I don’t get it, what’s the point of this? It just looks like a mess.” Of course I had no idea how to answer, I myself didn’t even really know what the point was, and certainly didn’t know how to articulate it. The following week my professor, Gail Roberts, who had been very supportive of my choice to explore abstraction, asked how I was feeling about the new direction in my work. I told her I was unsure and mentioned what the man said. She laughed and said, “Seren, these painting are incredible and very difficult paintings to do. As you continue painting, you will learn that you have to choose the people whose opinions matter and those who don’t. And what I have learned is that the better you get as a painter, the smaller your audience gets.”