Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 2000 Scholar Mick Lorusso

Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 2000 Scholar Mick Lorusso

Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Gergana Kostadinova.

Boettcher Scholar Year: 2000
Hometown: Ignacio
Colleges/Degree(s): Colorado College, Bachelor of Arts; San Francisco Art Institute, Master of Fine Arts

Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation?

I’m an interdisciplinary artist and educator. I create images, cabinets of curiosity, and interactions to address questions about energy, water, climate, health, and microbes. My projects inform my work as an instructor and coordinator for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) related programs with the Genesis Innovation Lab at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Los Angeles (since June 2018) and at the UCLA Sci | Art Nanolab Summer Institute (since July 2014). I love activating people’s curiosity and creativity as tools for exploring and ameliorating the beautiful worlds inside and around themselves, from the molecular to environmental scale.

What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now?

The Boettcher Foundation supported my vision of becoming an artist who integrates many disciplines by allowing me to attend my dream school of Colorado College, a hotbed of interdisciplinary thinking. Being a Boettcher Scholar has fueled a lifelong commitment to contribute inspiration to communities in many forms and in many places, with a special tie to Colorado. Although I am not currently based in Colorado, I return every few years both to create artistic projects in the state and to lecture at my alma maters: Ignacio High School and Colorado College.

Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work.

In 2013, I began practicing yoga to deal with stress-related health issues. To share the benefits, I recently completed a yoga teacher training, and have been imparting classes to friends, co-workers, and the general public in Echo Park, Los Angeles. My wife, Frida Cano, and I are founding members of an interdisciplinary cooperative called XOCIARTEK, through which we help organize and impart workshops and long-term projects for communities and youth in Mexico City, her hometown. We also work together building props for film and television and have created projects for 826LA, a nonprofit that helps children write stories.

What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field?

The best advice I received was from Buster Simpson, one of my mentors, who recommended not to get stuck making one definable art product or style, but to instead develop a conceptual and flexible process, to include contextual research and collaboration. I recommend that you find artists you admire and try to work for them and learn from them. Develop your vision through a daily practice, and inspire and educate others.

If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why?

I would love to have dinner with Lynn Margulis, to speak with her about her theories of endosymbiosis, the ideas that ancient microbes engulfed smaller bacteria to form partnerships that became animal and plant cells, and how the Gaia hypothesis arose from cellular musings. Physicists Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrodinger, Yogis Maharishi Yogananda and Yogi Bajan, and artists JMW Turner and Joseph Beuys would ideally be at the table, to speak with them about the energies of the universe and ways of grasping those energy patterns through inquiry, imagination, and intuition.

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