Mia Cross-The story behind the Trashy Ladies

The first thing you notice when you walk into the 'In Place' exhibition is the presence of life-size mannequins, elegantly garbed in trash. The sculptures are the work of artist Mia Cross, whose work is on view alongside the photographs and installations by Cory Munro Shea.

So what's with the 'Ladies'? 

Mia explains:

Mia Cross, Trashy Lady 2 (Gloucester edition) and Trashy Lady 1 (Gleason Pond edition)

Mia Cross, Trashy Lady 2 (Gloucester edition) and Trashy Lady 1 (Gleason Pond edition)

Mia Cross, Trashy Lady No. 1, (Gleason Pond edition)

Mia Cross, Trashy Lady No. 1, (Gleason Pond edition)

Mia Cross, Trashy Lady No. 2, (Gloucester edition)

Mia Cross, Trashy Lady No. 2, (Gloucester edition)

How Trashy Lady No. 1 (Gleason Pond Edition) Came to Be:

Working from my studio and living on Gleason Pond allows me to stay in touch with all of the happenings on the water. I know which animals have been born, who’s died, who’s learning to fly, who’s living where, who gets along etc. Often I’ll go on paddle boat rides to gain another perspective from what my dock can offer. This summer, I started scooping feathers out of the water hoping to collect them for a sculpture. On my excursions I began to take note of all the trash that was lying on the shore. Without a solid plan, I started picking up anything I saw and bringing it home (with the help of my lovely family). I liked the idea of cleaning up the mess humans had left in the home of my feathered friends…but I also like free stuff. After several muddy excursions I began to shine up my trash in my yard - sometimes even in my bathtub. When the pond sludge came off and the object started to look a bit more like it’s former self, this “trash” started to feel more like treasure.

Scavenging for objects and repurposing them is exciting, especially when the objects have carelessly been tossed and deemed invaluable. The pond felt like a time capsule of Framingham history. Each object had a mysterious and unique past and often a history older than me. A Goodyear Super Cushion tire from the fifties…a John Bucyk Bruins cup from the seventies…countless vintage Budweiser cans. I found bottles, wrappers, fishing poles, bobbers, buckets, pots, tubes, sheets, brooms, you name it.

So how did all of this trash become a trashy lady? Most of my sculptural work and paintings stem from the figure because it is simply what I am most drawn to. Creating a somebody out of nothing comes with a thrill that I think Frankenstein could understand. I soon realized that I wanted to create a patron of the pond, a beautiful lady swamp monster, a guardian angel of the waters...thus, “Trashy Lady No.1” came to be.


How Trashy Lady No. 2 (Gloucester Edition) Came to Be:

Last month I had the privilege of living and creating in Rocky Neck, Gloucester as the Goetemann Artist in Residence. Having the time and the space, I brought all of my pond trash to Gloucester. “Trashy Lady No. 1” was underway and I had no plans to start another lady…. but every morning I would go explore the beaches and I came to find all of this sea trash asking to be picked up! I couldn’t help but oblige! Collecting things became my routine. Thankful for bungee cords, I would bike to new shores and pile treasures onto my faithful bike. My front door became my display of my morning catches or maybe my crazy lady calling card. After collecting for several weeks I decided to make a sister for “Trashy Lady No. 1”. She would be a Patron of the Big Pond, and an elegant eclectic sea monster. “Trashy Lady No. 2” was born.
— Mia Cross

It's worth getting to know the Ladies in person, and to see the many photographs, installations, paintings and sculptures that are part of this memorable show. 'In Place' runs through December 18.