Mia Pratt has lived the unorthodox life of a professional dancer, writer and artist, navigating the fringe of society amongst a talented underground of artists, musicians, dancers, scholars and spiritual seekers from around the world. These influences often reveal themselves in the subjects of her artwork.
Mia Pratt was born in South Carolina in 1955, and the family relocated to northern California in 1959. She spent her teens living in the redwoods of Forestville, the banks of the Russian River just yards from her family home. Wandering its lush forest trails allowed her to expand the world of her imagination, pencil and notebook in hand, with drawings, poems and stories. The forest became her first studio, and the startling beauty she discovered there became her inspiration.
Mia came of age on the cusp of the artistic and cultural revolution in the 1970's, and was greatly influenced by the community of creatives who congregated in her Russian River home town from nearby San Francisco.
At eighteen Mia created oil paintings as her first delve into professional artwork, and held her first art show at a local gallery. She pursued Middle Eastern dance, performed poetry readings, devoured books about philosophy and religion, and studied with spiritual masters.
Mia's first real art studio was a converted school bus parked in an apple grove, where she painted iconic-style oil paintings on wooden panels, which she sold on the streets of San Francisco. She also studied Middle Eastern dance with San Francisco's Jamila Salimpour, the original west-coast diva of tribal bellydance and owner of the infamous Baghdad nightclub.
Dance and art became Mia's passion.
At nineteen, Mia joined the Rainbow Trance traveling bellydance troupe and toured the coast of northern California performing at festivals and other venues, selling small landscape paintings in between gigs.
After her daughter was born in 1977, Mia realized she was able to support herself and their family with dance and art. Living the working artist's life became Mia's career goal.
In 1981 Mia was hired by the Marrakech Restaurant & Jazz Nightclub in Honolulu, Hawaii as their featured solo dancer. After relocating there with her daughter, she spent four years performing two dinner shows a night, five nights a week, with the Egyptian house band. After 10:00 the club's late-night jazz scene heated up, featuring friend and legendary jazz singer Azure McCall and visiting jazz greats from around the world.
During the day Mia spent time with her young daughter and painted tropical garden scenes, selling her artwork in local shops. She also wrote her first book, a short work of comedic fiction.
In 1986 Mia left Honolulu to accept a position at Pasha's Dinner Club in San Francisco, where she performed nightly with the club's middle eastern band along with male bellydancer Horacio Cifuentes of the San Francisco Ballet. She continued painting during the day and selling her artwork in local venues, with a focus on seascapes.
When her daughter entered high school, Mia secured a copywriting job in Phoenix, Arizona, to provide a more stable family schedule. She continued her artwork while writing her second book, a fiction thriller.
After her daughter graduated high school, Mia felt free to return to the freelance life once again. She founded Old Pratt Studios, a philanthropic artists guild that served the Phoenix-Scottsdale design trades with commissioned artwork, murals, and exotic wall finishes. She also served as an artist-in-residence in a downtown Phoenix gallery, and wrote her third book, The Secrets of the 100 Golden Keys: Unlock the Power of Your Creativity and Set Your Life on Fire!
Over the years, being fully immersed in a world of music, dance, art, writing, and philosophy facilitated a gradual shift in consciousness that transcended Mia's desire to limit herself to any one area of the arts.
She grew to view herself and all people as "creative beings," adopting the idea that any form of human artistic expression is an expression of love . Whether having it, losing it, fearing it, wanting it, rebelling against the lack of it, aimed at the self or at others - no matter the form, the essence of artistic expression has its roots in love.
She also feels that every person is equipped with an innate ability to see and express the truth, beauty and love that exists in life, if given equal opportunity.
Humbled by the recognition of how privileged she was to have been given that opportunity, in 2009 Mia knew she had reached a time of completion for things of the past. She downsized to a minimalist lifestyle to prepare for an unknown new beginning, without yet knowing what form it might take or how things may unfold in the future.
Her preparation paid off later that same year, when Mia was invited to join friends living in a remote Nahua Indian fishing village in Mexico. She handed the Old Pratt Studios guild over to a senior artist, packed two suitcases, and made the arduous trek from Arizona to Maruata on the wild coast of Michoacán.
Living in a primitive palapa hut on a secluded beach amongst the Nahua Indians, Mia rediscovered the creative passion she'd experienced in the redwood forests of her youth. Inspired by the kind people, exotic beauty and simplicity of village life, she decided to remain in Mexico indefinitely and pursue her creative interests full time.
In 2010, a fateful chance encounter with two travelers led her to discover the quaint village of Ajijic on the banks of Lake Chapala. Mia still works and resides in her small studio gallery in Ajijic, sharing time with the fella, the garden, and Blanco the dog.