Meredith Ambruso is a lady, usually. She’s also an artist, activist, surfer and stylist living in Long Beach, California. She comes from an artistic family and has been honing her craft since doodling in the margins of homework assignments throughout her school years.
With the support of teachers who had a keen eye for talent, Meredith started putting on art shows and eventually working for Hurley at the age of 17. Now she’s selling her art through freelance projects and contract work but also keeping herself busy raising awareness and funds to combat human trafficking in India. Her non-profit, Milk & Honey – Providing Hope for India, is a joint project between Meredith and her friend Jordan Lovelis. Meredith gives us the background story on that and details about her artistic inspirations here.
What’s your art background? Formally trained or learn as you go?
My art background has been a very “learn as you go” sort of way of learning. I feel blessed to have grown up with a creative family. My parents, grandparents, sisters, cousins … everyone was always building, sewing, drawing or painting something! I wanted to learn something from everyone. I also have very talented friends who have been great influences. My only “formal” training came from high school art and photography class. Though my training was not as formal as say from a university, I feel that I learned so much in those four years. And if things were any different there is no way I would be doing what I’m doing now.
What mediums do you work in? Is there any specific medium that you prefer? Is there any that is particularly more frustrating or difficult for you?
I try to get my hands in lots of different mediums. I have preferred lately to work with my needle and thread doing needle point on canvas and recycled fabrics. And I love painting over found objects. Although most days nothing beats a nice sheet of paper and a great pen. Watercolor is awesome too. Gosh it’s hard to choose a medium I like best so I will be semi broad when I say I like a little bit of everything. I get frustrated when I drink too much coffee and get shaky and mess up. It’s not the medium thats frustrating it’s me. Here is a link to my blog/website to see my art: http://meredithambruso.wordpress.com/
Describe your creative process. Do you find that you have a certain creation in mind that you would like to create? If so, does it tend to come out like your original intent or idea? Or do you freestyle it?
My creative process is always so different. It tends to be from ideas I’ve had that I’ve written down or have drawn out. The beginning always starts as those ideas, but by the end it is 20ish% of the original idea and 60ish% other ideas that formed along the way.
Is there any particular piece that you are extra proud of? And why?
I am proud of pieces that are personal to me. The first was from a project in high school titled “Copy an Artist”. I chose to do a painting in the style of Wolfgang Bloch whom I had seen in an issue of Surfer magazine. He is still hands down one of my favorite artists of any generation. I loved collaging and I still do, so I collaged a canvas, painted over that then did some detailed work on top with pen and ink. That was the first time I felt like I did decent work. My first needle point piece that I finished I am pretty proud of too.
Where do you find your inspiration? Is there any particular place that you find yourself going back for that inspiration?
Inspiration … as cliche as it sounds I find inspiration in just about everything. And everyone. I have found inspiration from the most random places. Although if I feel in an artistic block I like to go out on my own to a place that is either completely familiar with lots of color and personality, or by going somewhere completely unfamiliar. Music helps a great deal and so do films. I love looking through National Geographic and surfing is always the best place for me to find peace of mind.
Tell us a little bit about your non-profit ‘Milk & Honey – Providing Hope for India‘. What do you do? What is the goal behind it? And how did it come about?
‘Milk & Honey – Providing Hope for India‘ is a non-profit that my friend, Jordan Lovelis, and I started to help raise funds and awareness concerning under age girls and boys who are or have been in human trafficking. For myself, though not having been to India, I, like many people have read the horrific stories and have seen on tv or in film the awful ways of the world of human trafficking. Jordan saw first hand when he went to India last March the tragedies of human trafficking. One day while walking the streets of India a pimp came to him and offered him a girl for forty rupees. Forty rupees amounts to the price of a Coke! Jordan and I were talking about his experience in India and how we both had it on our hearts to do something about human trafficking in India. After that we realized we should put our words into action. And so we did! We are both very passionate about this and about doing something for those who do not have a voice. It has by no means been easy. We have funded it just the two of us and we have been going through endless paperwork. But at the end of the day nothing has felt more worth my time. We have partnered with a home in India who takes in girls who have been in sex trafficking, providing them shelter, therapy and giving them trades to get back on they’re feet. Our goal is to raise as much awareness as we can by trying to bring light to such a dark topic and raise funds.
Is there a special story behind the name?
The name came to me while I was in jury duty. Yes good things do come from jury duty, at least this one time something good came out of it. I was thinking about a verse in the Bible, basically God’s like the Promise Land will be full of the “milk and honey” of what the Earth has to offer. Thus it will have the best of the best. Which to me is a really great way to think about things. These girls deserve the “milk and honey” of the Earth and need to know that they not only deserve that, but can also give that in return. And ‘Providing Hope for India’ is simply self explanatory. We are providing the hope for those in human trafficking in India.
How can people get involved?
To support us we have shirts we sell on our website. Our shirts are for sale in three different styles for both the men and the ladies. You can visit us at our website: http://providinghopeforindia.org/ We are also on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/hopeforindia and Instagram: milkandhoneyofficial. We are just doing the best we can in the most positive of ways we can.
What’s in the future for Meredith?
My future … well in about five minutes I will have my fourth cup of coffee for today. As for years to come anything goes. So I’ll work backwards: With more time to come I’m hoping to be making a big change in human trafficking all over the world and one day being a wife with a family. I hope my life in general consists of continuing ‘Milk & Honey – Providing Hope for India’, making art of course, surfing as much as I can, I’d love to be shaping surfboards, traveling more frequently, and just being a good and loving person. I think Mother Teresa said things best when she said, “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” Maybe thats sort of cheesy, but it’s absolutely true.