2016 Babe of the Year: Miriam Conner

In the first few months of the new year, we're celebrating the babes who helped buoy our community in 2016 with their inspiring ambition, work and success. 

After visiting her mother in Austin for what was supposed to be a two week stay, 2016 Babe of the Year Miriam Conner was transfixed by a tangible sense of the city's soulfulness and creativity. 

So she stayed — and has committed herself to carving out room for that soulfulness and creativity by helping lift up the artists that make Austin what it is. In addition to Topology, an artist-run gallery and studio space, Conner also helps to foster creative talent through LOCALmotive, an artist management, event consulting, and production company. 

Keep up with what she's got planned in 2017 by following along with Topology on Instagram

Where does the drive to do what you do — even when the struggle bus pulls up — come from?

At the age of 15, I discovered what I want to do for the rest of my life. I am very grateful to have found that particular passion that wakes me up in the morning and tucks me in at night.

My life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness lies within art.

I learned everything from my mother, as she raised me with her soul. She taught me how to cook, the trades of being an entrepreneur, how to be a strong woman, and how to never give up doing what you love.   

When I fall down or when shit hits the fan, I remember that she is the one to pick me up or protect me. My drive and resilience is fueled by the understanding that I want to — and need to — do the same for her.

What have been your favorite moments of creative energy this past year? What have been the most challenging? And what are you most proud of accomplishing this past year?

After receiving my BFA from the California Institute of the Arts, I came back to visit my mother in Austin for two weeks. Within those two weeks, I realized that the city that I would marry was changing. Austin’s soul and heart were in flux.

The heartbeat of Austin exists in the efforts of the artist and service industry community. They work hard, often in tandem, to pump energy, inspiration, and community back into the soul of this unique city.

I left all of my books and clothes in Los Angeles and decided to stay. I wanted to be a part of and help direct the inevitable change a rapidly growing city such as Austin is experiencing.

“It's been a long time, a long time coming — But I know a change gonna come.”

One day, I stumbled upon an artist’s studio and warehouse called Pine Street Station. I immediately fell in love. I helped Reji Thomas and others run and manage the building for two years. Artists had a place to call home. Shortly after, the city came and took the warehouse as eminent domain. 

What happened to Pine Street is a minor detail in a greater conversation that the city needs to start having. We are losing artist spaces just as quickly as condos are rising. How is the soul of Austin supposed to thrive without providing its heartbeat the proper resources to survive? 

Two years after the demise of Pine Street Station, I am co-owner of Topology (along with Anita Obasi, Dom Davis, and Ian Seyer). Topology is an artist-run warehouse that we converted with our bare hands from an empty warehouse to an art gallery and affordable studio spaces. 

I am also co-founder of a company called LOCALmotive. We are an artist management, event consulting and production company. My business partner, Anita Obasi, and I aim to connect creatives on a local level by mobilizing resources and solutions around artistic visions.

We strive to thoughtfully connect creatives with resources that will nourish their development, curate spaces where people can showcase and celebrate their talents, and cultivate a tight-knit artistic community that is contributing to the growth of Austin's culture.

Since the city has neglected to provide our communities with the proper tools to survive, we’ve gone ahead and done it ourselves. We shouldn't work under the framework of following existing precedents like sheep. We need to find that one particular passion within ourselves, pursue it, and be great at it — for our own fulfillment and on behalf of the community at large.

Jane Claire HerveyComment