Rina Miriam and Her Creatively Constructed Studio in Rochester, New York


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A self portrait by Rina Miriam.

A self portrait by Rina Miriam part of a recent series highlight compact mirrors.

No home is ever complete without artwork. When Rina Miriam showed up on the Krrb radar, we recognized her art as having a warm, familiar feeling that you would want in your home. It’s friendly and inviting yet visually challenging enough so that you could look at in new ways everyday – perfect to pepper your home with. This Rochester native shares with us where she goes to find treasures in her neighborhood and what inspires her studio space. Read on to find out more why we’re shining our spotlight on this artist.

Rina in her Rochester studio.

Rina in her Rochester studio.

Hi Rina! Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi. I’m Rina Miriam Drescher, an artist living and working in Rochester, NY.

Where are you from and where do you currently live?
I’m from Rochester and moved away for about 6 years before coming back. I was living in Finland for four years and Boston, MA for two. I’m Finnish-American and I was teaching English in Finland as well as attending the painting school Vapaa Taidekoulu (which means Free Art School). After which I moved to Boston to attend the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Where I live in Rochester keeps changing because I keep renting different apartments all over the place though my studio has been in the same spot since my return. It’s in a neighborhood called the East End and located above the Rochester Contemporary Art Center.

What is the most awesome thing in or about your neighborhood?
My favorite thing about the neighborhood is that my studio is located right between two coffee shops (Java’s and Spot Coffee) and anytime I go into either one I usually see someone I know. It’s a friendly place to take a quick break from painting.

Tell us your favorite place you go locally to discover hidden treasures.
My interpretation of the word “treasures” either means art supplies or food. Art supplies aren’t generally hidden, it just has to do with the way you’re thinking about something. A lot of times you can substitute supplies you’ve scavenged as long as you change your process around a little bit. This doesn’t really work for paint since painting gets pretty specific, but sometimes experimenting with something you have found is helpful to the outcome.

Rochester Art Supply is right around the corner from my studio and so far that’s been my favorite place to find supplies locally. Delicious muffins are another treasure I’m usually looking for.

There are lots of neat places in Rochester with great things. If you count artworks as hidden treasures (which you probably should) and you were interested in hunting it down as I often do, the First Friday website always has the best art events happening in town.

Some of Rina's paintings in her studio, at various stages of development.

Some of Rina’s paintings in her studio, at various stages of development.

What blogs or websites do you visit regularly?
I actually really really really like Pinterest. Pinterest is geared towards creative people and encourages DIY approaches to all sorts of things. I’ve been really happy to discover that on Pinterest people are sharing how they’re displaying art in their homes! There are incredible ideas on how to hang artwork. I love that.

I love seeing all types of artwork in places other than galleries! Sometimes I see that in magazines but on Pinterest tons of photos can be right there at your fingertips. I started a board where I’m trying to collect as many of those interesting pictures as I can so that they’re all in one place, in case I want to reference them for a specific body of work at some point. I find photos like that completely fascinating, and also really inspiring.

Today, how often do you go to garage sales, flea markets, etc.? What is your modus operandi? Any personal tips you’d like to share?
If I bike past a garage sale or yard sale, I always stop and ask about any art supplies which I’ve had a lot of luck with. I got a great deal on a Dremel that way last year. The seller threw in all sorts of unexpected things with it: a whole bunch of Prismacolor colored pencils that no one had even sharpened yet, two boxes of Liquitex art sticks (which are like big extremely colorful crayons), pencils and graphite sticks, black oil sticks, a set of 24 Grumbacher soft pastels, new and in the box, and a drawing board! I was beyond thrilled. That lady was great.

I would have never experimented with using these specific items if they hadn’t been such a great deal, and they happened upon me. Some of the art I’ve made with them never would have existed otherwise.

The found drawing table in Rina's studio.

The found drawing table in Rina’s studio.

Have you ever taken home an object you found in the street or dumpster? If so, what was it? And where is it now?
Yes! I drove past a drawing table put on the curb once. It was like I saw a brilliant unicorn standing in the rain! It was in good condition so I convinced my truck-having friend to help me haul it to my studio. I put a new top on it and I’ve been so happy with it ever since.

Are you a hoarder or a minimalist?
I’m a minimalist with what looks like a hoard of art supplies. It’s a little aggravating but it’s better than having to stop in the middle of working because you don’t have something essential. My studio is really small so that adds to the problem.

What is your most cherished thrifted, secondhand, vintage, upcycled object you possess? What’s the story behind it?
I thrift for things occasionally but I’ve never really hit the jackpot with anything. I have some cute pink snakeskin heels that I found in new condition. I haven’t worn them yet. They are completely unlike any of my other shoes.

A recent painting that has inspired a larger series.

A recent painting that has inspired a larger abstract series.

Do you create/make things? What are you working on these days?
Yes, all the time. I’m making 500 one-of-a-kind art pinback buttons. It is taking much longer to do than I anticipated. I’m also collaborating on a series of paintings with watercolor artist, Sara Gallagher. Our series is called the Compact Mirror series and it is about beauty, truth, self-reflection, power, and assurance. For that series I’ve been sawing wood into squares and then priming the surfaces we’re using (we’re using cardboard too) with gesso and then drawing with pen and ink (with a manuscript pen and loose ink) onto the surfaces and then Sara paints with watercolor over my drawings. I draw with the pen but then at times I also apply the ink with a small brush. The paintings we’ve made for the series so far range in price from about $75 to $200 each. I’d like us to make some larger works in that series as well.

I’m also working on a small series of collages at the moment. I’m thinking of them as sketches for larger paintings in the spring.

Oh and the by and by, what’s your day job?
I’m a full time studio artist. I’m not sure what the future holds for me but I’ve taught in the past and I’m thinking about maybe doing that again.

Thanks Rina!

A portrait part of Rina's Compact Mirror series.

Rina with her self portrait, part of her Compact Mirror art series.

The Short List

First Friday Rochester

Rochester Art Supply, 150 West Main Street in Rochester

Rina Miriam Online
Rina Miriam
Rina Miriam’s Krrb corner
Pinterest page
Etsy Shop
Facebook Page

  • Rina Miriam Drescher

    Thank you Aijung!

  • aijung

    awesome interview!

  • Thank you Elisaveta! :-)

  • Elisaveta Sivas

    Lovely interview, nice studio, thanks!
    I will go to check your Pinterest to see how people display art in their homes…