Amina (Ethan Tyrer) is a musician and artist based out of Los Angeles. Amina has released 3 albums and an EP, exhibited work at museums in Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco, and performed in venues across the country.
Currently, I’m 28 years old and living in Los Angeles, making art and music and doing graphic design work on the side. I grew up in rural Wisconsin (lots of cows) but moved to Seattle quickly after school to pursue a music career. I had always been a musician, and while I loved art, I had never really considered being an artist. My interest in art came when I got a job as a gallery attendant at the Seattle Art Museum. I spent hours in galleries staring and spacing out at the pictures. That’s when I started wanting to make my own art. I moved to Los Angeles about two years ago.
It’s always difficult to talk about your work, and even more difficult to think about why you’re doing it. I’m sure I’m like most artists when I say it’s just something that I do almost unconsciously, and it isn’t until you have to explain it to somebody that you actually begin looking into your own motives.
I can definitely say that my work is very detached in a certain sense, detached from time and place. I’ve never really felt like my work was influenced directly by the events or state of the world around me at the time. In fact, I seem to intentionally avoid those things to keep it from being influenced by what’s happening in my environment, as if to keep it inside of some timeless vacuum. It seems to me that this “timeless vacuum” is one of the ideas that most fascinates me as an artist. Not to say that my work has no relevance to the world or the human experience, but more that it’s the invisible, eternal forces that drive the world and its people that I’m interested in. As human beings, we are by default so stuck in the time and place in which we live. But to me the most interesting parts of being alive and existing are the things we can’t see, or I should say the things we are not taught how to look for. These unseen worlds and spirits are what I seem to be chasing with my art.
We all get glimpses of these worlds: we dream, we feel strange things ,we have moments where our subconscious surfaces, we space out staring at a wall for seconds without knowing what it is we’re thinking about. I think most people take these moments for granted, but to me it’s always felt like there was so much behind them, as if the secrets of life and answers to all my questions were there in some other world. Gradually over time, my life has become very centered around exploring these places, and my art is a way of bringing those places back with me and sharing with others. If my art succeeds at being a gateway into these worlds, then I’ve done my job.
I find the concept of balance to be extremely important in my work. The world is full of extremes, and I usually find myself drawn to the balance of those extremes. I want to make art that people see and say, “What is this?” But at the same time I don’t want to make things that are so abstract and far out that the average person can’t connect with them. So a large part of my practice is finding a balance between the two worlds…making things that are both normal and strange, both concrete and abstract, both dark and light. I often see it as a bridge between the two worlds. My deepest goal is to take ordinary people and show them that there’s more to the world than the ordinary existence we are conditioned to have. That if you look a little deeper at anything you’ll see that it’s all strange and full of magic.
When I think about my creative process, I realize that it in a way mirrors the way our brains process things like memory and dreams. Our experience of the world is so fragmented. Our awareness sees hundreds of fragmented images, hears hundreds of fragmented sounds every day. It then takes all these fragments and fills in the blanks, so that it appears to be fluid and make sense to us. In the same way, I begin with fragments of images. Most often I take bits of images I find on the internet, but I’ll also use pieces of photographs, textures from paintings, or drawings I made. Whatever it is, I know it when I see it because I can feel that it will lead me into the world I am looking for. I’ll then take the fragment of the image that caught my eye and with Photoshop I’ll duplicate, warp, skew, and arrange all the collected fragments, often hundreds of times in a piece. I then spend hours blending the fragments together into one cohesive vision, just as the brain blends all the fragments of information it receives.
My music and art are really meant to go together. When I first started making pictures, it seemed like an entirely separate process from my music. But then I started noticing connections between the pictures I was making and the music I was writing. My last album Anacord was when I really got into this. In a way, the music was born from the abstract landscapes I was making on the computer. Rather than starting with melodies or chords, the songs slowly seemed to grow out of the sounds and textures that I felt existed in the pictures. The color and texture of the pictures translated into the tone and atmosphere of the music. And just like the pictures, the music came together fragment by fragment, until it blended together into one coherent piece. After a while, I realized that both the music and pictures were coming from the same place, the same imaginary worlds. The pictures were depictions of the place, whereas the music was the movement, emotions, and narrative that was happening in that place.