Silicon Valley from Cities - A new course from Harvard University by Mirena Rhee

A new course from Harvard University -- enroll now on edX: For the first time in human history, more than fifty percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. Cities allow for the exchange of ideas, and generate remarkable innovations in business, art, and ideas. Cities are also home to millions living in poverty. Urban living can provide a pathway to a better life, but that’s not always the case for many people around the world. CitiesX will give you a far-ranging look at the past, present and future of cities, with the aim of teaching you how to better understand, appreciate and improve urban areas. The course will explore key concepts of urban development by examining cities around the world, including London, Rio de Janiero, New York City, Shanghai, Mumbai, Kigali, and many more. Support for CitiesX is generously provided by Tishman Speyer.

Brown things or the merits of brown ink, marble, iron and other pleasant colors. by Mirena Rhee

Found at some point in the vicinity of Vatican museums the Louvre and other odd places.

I've always been fascinated with the brown -ness of drawings I had seen in museums around the world so when I first started drawing I used black but black is just too assertive and too dark so I found the most gentle semi-transparent brown ink which is of German origin which is so delicate which serve my purpose and it's my secret

I find comfort in the old Masters the art of the Renaissance as well as art from two millennia back, it's my wall against greed, the materialistic the piles of useless garbage and all the empty words it's like a poetry wall for me against all evil

One of the best things that happened to me in the Silicon Valley was that people really never cared about my gender or my accent, and I highly encourage you if you ever want to try and work, work for somebody that you like and somebody that likes you back. Although the Silicon Valley appears on the surface to really care about middle-aged white men, under the hood what Silicon Valley really cares about is whether you produce great work, and since I was sitting in a cubicle and typing and clicking away nobody really cared if I had a vagina or whether I had come from Eastern Europe or not.

When I first moved to the Silicon Valley I was fresh off the middle of the Midwest University where I had gone to do my Master where I had gotten a full scholarship. So we moved to the Silicon Valley basically dragging a U-Haul behind us in. In the valley I had no family or friends, and since I was wondering what to do - I worked. Because I had no idea what else to do other than working and I didn't know anyone, I didn't have any network, or support network, or friends or family, .. so once I started working I started paying attention to what the most talented people were doing and tried to do the same thing, and what the most talented people were doing is working a lot so I did too.

I was sitting around in the cubicle in front of a computer and I was having absolutely a great time, I'm having a lot of fun, and I was getting paid $100,000 to do the fun. There was a company, a video game company called Activision which paid me about $120,000 - so I will get a yearly salary and then they will have these layoffs whenever a project is over, so whenever a project was over they will lay off people and give severance. I will get laid off from a project and get $20,000 severance. In a month or two they will call me back and say hey please come back on board but you have to return the money. I'm like no way I'm not returning the money so I will get on board again, I will keep the $20,000 and then the project will be over again for some reason, it would just be over in six months and then they will give me another $20,000 in severance. So it was really nice like that.

I would end up with these fantastic amount of money in my bank account so what did I do with the money? I went to the Uffizi and stayed for weeks, I went to the Louvre, I went to the Vatican Museums. I went to the National Gallery in London, to the National Portrait Gallery. I learned from the best the world has to offer first-hand. It also really helped thatas an artist in the Silicon Valley so I was getting really acquainted with the best processes in the world, with what the Japanese called kaizen- continuous improvement. There's one thing about being a commercial artist is that you work together with other people in a collaborative way, you work towards a certain visual goal and that visual goal has a very high standard, and that high standard has to be achieved somehow right? The best possible way is, because you can't really nail it right off the bat, the best way is to take small steps and do continuous improvement until the final product is satisfactory. 

When I went to study all the old Masters and I was already familiar with all the processes that the Silicon Valley used to create these marvelous projects and products, I could recognize the same drive for greatness. I could recognize that all the old Masters ( I include in this definition all the Renaissance greats as well as all the great artists from Antiquity ) were not only great artists but great technicians, great engineers as well, they were very very technical in their approach. 

Silicon Valley had this really flat management structure where you basically learned how to do things by bouncing off of other great people that were doing their thing. Steve Jobs had the famous rock tumbler metaphor where you put a bunch of rocks in a tumbler and you turn it on and the next day come back to see that all the rocks were polished into nice gems by simply rubbing off of each other for 24 hours.
Although nobody ever spoke of kaizen the spirit of kaizen permeated the spirit of the Silicon Valley.

Stay away from garbage. You know it when you see it. Stay near and learn from the best. You always know when you see great work, it usually speaks for itself - the people, the products and the processes are usually something you want to repeat in the future, learn from, come back to, deeply respect, greatly admire and want to emulate.

My love for Japan never went away by Mirena Rhee

I miss the straight lines of the wooden floors I miss the patterns of tatami I miss the lush greens I miss the kind people I miss the crowds in Shinjuku and harajuku in Tokyo I miss the quiet power of the Zen gardens in Kyoto I miss the quirkiness of pachinko parlors I miss eating sushi with construction workers in asakusa I miss the wooded hills of arashyama.

Shinjuku - Tokyo

Tokyo Walks - the famous crosswalk in Shibuya

Memory replacement by Mirena Rhee

Not sure if people realize that what I do has no agenda other than engaging on a very visceral level irrelevant to social status or architecture, it is about engaging the most god-like ability of us humans and it is to create spontaneously, without any rationalization as to why and the what. Because it's not a power structure and this is very important, it's a structure of pure expression and it comes before everything else, just like the big bang.

Memory Replacement World Trade Center Wearable, mixed media on canvas, 2018
Created during a performance and installation with public participation of the same name at the World Trade Center Memorial Site in New York City.

Created during a performance and installation with public participation of the same name at the World Trade Center Memorial Site in New York City.

I am glad with this work I was able to incorporate lessons from previous performances and design the wearable to be completely self contained - including the brushes and paint, like a mini art studio. Since the location was so sensitive I wanted it to be light and feathery, like something coming from a dream rather than a simple sack from primed canvas. And lastly but not the least of all consideration, I want it to be beautiful and tasteful rather than sharp angled and garish, or provocative. I wanted the action of painting to be the only provocation. These days it has become a fashion in the arts to do just anything and call it art, the missed opportunity in that is that artists these days have no taste, they go for the lowest target of accomplishing a message. I do not want to simply construct a message, I am not a sign painter. I am a creator of beauty and meaning. Creating with taste is simply difficult, difficult to design and difficult to create. to create with taste will be my contribution to performance art. One of the lessons I learned working as an artist in the Silicon Valley is how to manage process where you take something that is ugly and unappealing and then you make it beautiful through iterations and continuous improvement. And this is the process I used to create this work.

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosch by Mirena Rhee

The Garden of Earthly Delights

Triptych by Hieronymus Bosch

An incredible painting which I remember just dying to see ..I saw it over Christmas sometime in a not so distant past, it was raining in Madrid. it is all now available to see online in the greatest detail, the kind of detail you won't be able to see in person. I spent hours with this painting over several days, while also seeing Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, as well as the Royal palace.

One of the things I noticed about artists is that they rarely talk about art or are rarely interested in art and I will try to start a conversation about an important artwork or just simply about art and people are just not interested you know, people like to make things. People like to make tchotchkies because tchotchkies require no thinking and no ideas of your own. To think is difficult, to think up something new is difficult.

How can you make art unless you know what is the best there is in art that has ever been created, whether in the past or in the present, the purpose of creating stuff is to measure up to the best there is. what other purpose could there be for art other than to measure up or surpass whatever has been done in the past in some manner. 

I don't want to personally be buried in historical detail I don't really care about the past but I care about what has been done which is absolutely the best there is, that is important, it is really important to know and measure up to the most significant artworks that have ever been created.

#art #artist #oldmasters #painting #prado @museoprado #madrid

this is the link to the painting online

My favorite thing to do is to daydream by mirena

One of the most important faculties we humans have at our disposal is our ability to generate ideas, to think and dream up things. In my work i do use my ideas and my dreams and use my knowledge of old masters and the history of art, as well as my experience in artistic process from the Silicon Valley, to give the work depth and then shape.

I think ideas and ideals are our most important asset. I personally promise to hang onto every idea and whim that crosses my mind. To indulge in frivolous speculation and to use words from different languages in one sentence. I am interested in answers not much contrived, genuine things and fools persistent in their folly.

Teachers are important and Sadhguru is one of my current teachers. I am not a buddhist of any kind, not into the guru scene or into purchasing bliss in the form of programs and seminars. But I like to keep an open mind and to look for other people's insights and judge whether they may be helpful in my life. Every person is ultimately the teacher of the their own self.. and the only agent of life that matters. I am the only person I'd trust with insights into my own life, my wellbeing and my life path. This has often created rifts and caused aggravation in my relationships with other people.

But even for the most reckless things I have done in my life I had the utmost self-belief that I was on the right path... even when i sold and gave away all my possessions, gave up my 6 figure job and beautiful apartment.. and moved to a small room in New York. The drama this created around me and within the circle of people that were closest to me.. was much bigger than all the discomfort and inconveniences I may have experienced.

At one point my feeling was that all the possessions and items in my closets were becoming a huge burden, all the fancy dresses, various items in my cupboards, all the travel... they all wanted a piece of me or my time. time that I could have used to ponder over or create things.

Vader Tesseract by Mirena Rhee

Vader Tesseract is a 3d sculpture I made in Zbrush based on my an encounter with three NYPD detectives who decided to visit one morning and encountered my Vader drawings on the wall, and almost decided to buy one on the spot. The thing is my former landlord was a public defender and was an activist for prisoners’ rights.. so I never really did anything to piss the detectives off because in any other circumstances i would have been in the precinct and would have turned it on my head.

I decided to make this sculpture instead to remind me that police officers in New York like art too, even when on the job.

I am also glad I moved :)


Roadside Attraction by Mirena Rhee

Roadside Attraction is an installation I thought of several years ago as an all American, amusement park type of work, a show on the side of the road or a trailer that could be part of a country art fair. Could be even setup on a remote country road, away from traffic or even in a field. Without and far removed from formal art experiences but using the materials and methods that belong in an artist's studio, and, of course, the provocation. Roadside Attraction was conceived as a spectacle at a truck stop. I have always been fascinated by American truckers, hauling large trailers on American highways. Last year I drove solo 3000 miles from Florida's Space Coast to the Silicon Valley in California where I spent a large portion of my life in a not so distant past. While on the road I had plenty of time to think, especially driving through West Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. I am convinced that at that moment I had the tiniest car in all of Texas, In one small dusty town I  suddenly feared that cowboys, who were prowling the nearby hills hunting boar, may actually decide to shoot my tires for fun.

So Roadside Attraction has probably lingered on the back of my head ever since I started moving across the Untied States - I once crossed the States along highway 80 ( Kansas, Colorado, etc) and once along 10 ( Mississippi, Texas, etc ), of course not counting flying. Mississippi had absolutely the worst roads I had ever come across as far as Federal Highways go. I thought I had broken an axel - my little Hyundai was shaking so bad and I was in the middle of nowhere in the deep south with a tiny car full of stuff.

Remember the Giant Hands in Beacon project - one of my favorite projects to do and with great and gentle results by mirena

Month-long, site-specific installation in Beacon, NY, created illegally inside Dennings Point Ruins. Due to the fact that it was created in a State Park - I had to setup from scratch every morning and fold everything every evening, leaving no trace. Hence its ephemeral, and inherently mobile and shifting nature. I apologize to the state of New York for not applying for the permit they would have never given me anyway. That's why I didn't ask. ..................

While hiking in the area I found the most beautiful space - abandoned brick factory which has been taken over by nature.

While passing by I only saw a brick wall, partially collapsed and had no idea the area just around the corner held this amazing environment.

I walked by, the place called me and I answered. It's my magical forest sans the mushrooms. I was in love and spent much time here.

They call the place Dennings Point ruins, I found them much improved though, and much more beautiful. imagine the sheer mundanity of a brick factory building with all the brick making stuff in it. Now it has been beautifully rearranged by nature and you have the most lively soundscape too.

It was made so much more beautiful. …

Art is about a punch to the stomach. I figured what the difference is between art and art, art gives you a punch so when the art is absent and the artist is absent you still hold the image in your head. You say ah!

If there’s no ah it is just making stuff, or being creative which is of course absolutely valid too it just isn’t all that interesting.


I loved being in this place, in the company of bushes, crickets, birds, wind, greenery, ruins, graffiti, and random humans.

To create a brand new visual experience, and fleeting.

I loved the sounds of the space as well, it's like nature was pushing its way into the building but couldn't take over and get all in.

Plus I had the local bullies come in and complain about the yuppies coming to their town, and to be honest I was scared but not terrified but my friend freaked out so i had to start folding. I will make sure to come alone next time because I do not care to "burn with my art" - this was the only time I have been threatened to be burned with something I created so I feel it was quite special.

And then the cops showed up, they were really nice.

On the other hand the local shuttle driver for the college took us to the bar up the hill completely free and out of the goodness of their heart which was great, and the bar was great too - I loved the food and the ambiance because there was nothing pretentious about it, and with great tasting beer.

Not affiliated by any stretch - but would love to be - Meyer's Olde Dutch Food & Such.

Happy New Year from my fire escape - a beautiful day in New York, open and sunny skies - much sun to you tooo!!!!! by mirena

Happy New Year, drinking my first coffee of the year on my fire escape, barefoot ! #happynewyear #happynewyear2019 #firstdayoftheyear #sun

#coffee #mirenarhee #breakfast #InstagramNYC #newyorkcity #newyork #artnyc #art

#drinkingcoffee #morning



#discovernyc #newyork_instagram

#newyorkcitylife #artlife

#myart #newyorknewyork #newyorkcitylife

#beautiful #nyc mirenarhee#fireescape #goodmorning


The best of 2018 by mirena

And Happy New Year from Memory Replacement !! Happy New year, thanks to ever amazing adventures and most of all people who helped me create - hope to be ever more unknowledgeable, ignorant and unsuspecting of things in 2019

#happynewyear #happynewyear2019 #bestof2018 #performanceart

#memoryreplacement #mirenarhee

#installation #InstagramNYC #newyorkcity #newyork #artnyc #art

#fineart #exhibition


#paintwithyourheart #oculusnyc #oculus


#discovernyc #newyork_instagram

#newyorkcitylife #artlife



#myart #newyorknewyork #newyorkcitylife