We had the good fortune of connecting with Mia Cruz-Bastian and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Mia, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
I feel that happiness is more of a state of mind that you feel within certain moments and less of a perpetual state that you exist in. I feel happy when I am around my closest friends and we’re telling each other stories of our day, of our lives. I feel that traveling, whether just outside my city limits or across the globe, brings me happiness. Listening to live music brings me happiness in the same way that creating my own art does. The ability to create for a good cause and experiencing tangible creativity brings me the most hope, and I suppose then the most happiness.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Firstly, I consider myself a multi-media painter and a writer. In a paradox of sorts, I am passionate about so many things that I feel as if I’m sitting at a fork in the road, unable to gravitate towards one path over the other. I think I struggle with trying to stay unique to myself and my work while also keeping up with the demand of social media and *sigh* NFT’s. (I’m probably not alone in this.) I’ve tried to overcome this by attempting to combine seemingly “opposites”- my love for science and my desire to create art. Two major projects that I’m really proud of share that vision; One intertwined memory, introspective analysis, and digital media, while the other (my recent Master’s thesis) showcased the intersectionality of climate change and human rights law/policy. I believe I was inspired to mesh together art and science while working as a sommelier and wine technician at City Winery Chicago. Wine-making requires precise attention to detail, a dash of chemistry, and the ability to use your imagination. It’s also a humbling career as you are ultimately working with Mother Nature and the fragility of organic matter.
As much as I admire the classic icons of the Renaissance and Impressionist movements, I am most energized by young artists creating contemporary pieces that navigate difficult or controversial topics with a goal of furthering social activism/justice. I learned (albeit the hard way) that no matter if you spent years dedicating yourself to become educated in a specific field, learning is a continuous and never-ending process and there will always be people who try their best to disrupt and counteract that journey. My Mia Tika brand (building a brand is also a continuous and never-ending process) focuses on the beauty of learning, failing, and the interconnectivity of humans and nature. In the future I hope to work with young trailblazers that inhabit minority spaces (BIPOC, LQBTQ+, disabled, etc.) While we’re floating around on this rock, why not use our super powers for good?

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
ahhh hard to pick favorites in a such a great city, however, here’s some Chicago classics: Eating/Drinking:
The Hoxton Hotel (speakeasy called Lazy Bird, rooftop Peruvian restaurant called Cabra)
City Winery (bias to this one)
Jeni’s Ice Cream
The Up Room at the Robey
Bar Sótano (mezcal lovers unite)
Little Giant
Cafe Baba Reeba
Teatime at The Allis
Booze Box
Suite 202

A random warehouse rave
The back of Bar ñ
Montrose beach live reggae nights
Punch House (also GREAT mussels in the above restaurant, Dusek’s.)
Untitled Supper Club

MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art)
Art Institute
Sightseeing by walking/biking down the Lakeshore Drive trail
Any street fest!!
Movie and a picnic at Millenium Park
Garfield Park Conservatory

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am lucky to be surrounded by loving, creative, hilarious individuals. I am nothing without the support from everyone who keeps shining their light on me both on good days and bad. My family and friends deserve the utmost praise for always believing in me. However, I have a few mentors I would like to mention: my first grade teacher, Kathy Adler, who believed in my poetry and made me feel like a rare pearl, my high school art teacher, Mrs. KB, who boggled my mind relentlessly (in a productive way) and submitted my work to shows sans my permission because she knew I didn’t have the confidence to do it myself, my mentor and semi-retired winemaker, Robert Kowal, who’s sharp wit, love of opera, and true tenacity has continued to push me towards achieving my most ambitious goals, and the French novelist, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, for bringing Le Petit Prince into this world which has reminded me over the course of my short life to never lose sight of my childlike wonder and artistic mind. …and of course my brilliant partner, Lo. You inspire me every day and without you there is no music.

Website: miatika.com

Instagram: miaacruz/ mia_tika_art

Other: website is currently under construction but should be back & running ASAP!

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.