Marisol Rendón and Ingram Ober

Recorded January 23, 2020 Archived January 23, 2020 40:43 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: ddf000463


Marisol Rendón (44) and her husband Ingram Ober (44) talk about the art pieces and sculptures they created for The New Children's Museum, discuss their differing approaches to making art, and share some of their family's background.

Subject Log / Time Code

IO takes it back to the beginning, in 2008 when the pair was expecting their first kid, meeting people involved with The New Children's Museum.
MR describes "Wobbleland," one of her installations at The New Children's Museum, which she calls her strongest accomplishment among the works she's done for the museum.
IO talks about "wonder" and reaching for that as a goal when making art for the museum.
MR talks more about "Wobbleland," describing it physically. It was inspired by their son, who is a picky eater.
MR says she is grateful for the level of contrast between her and her husband.
IO remembers the changes MR had to make in order to be with him, specifically changes in culture and language.
MR talks about how long it takes to belong in the United States, and says she tries to be sincere about who she is.
MR asks IO if art can save the world--IO says no, but also that he doesn't want to live in a world without it.


  • Marisol Rendón
  • Ingram Ober

Recording Location

The New Children's Museum

Venue / Recording Kit

Partnership Type

Fee for Service



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00:02 Hello. My name is Marisol. Rendu00f3n. I am 44 years old. Today's date is January 23rd, 2020. We are at the new Children's Museum in San Diego. The name of the interview partner is Ingram over and who is my husband and my artistic partner?

00:25 So yes, I guess we've been asked here for a while. I do it to my name is Ingram Ober. I am 44 today's date is January 23rd 2020. We're here at the new trends Museum in San Diego, California. I'm here with my wife and artistic partner Marisol rendu00f3n.

00:53 I guess we're here to have a conversation around artson family and how those things kind of interact with this Museum. And so I guess it's sweet try to start from the beginning of all of those things. That's the good lie.

01:14 Which I guess takes us back to for us if we're going to relate the family to 2008 expecting our first child working as

01:32 Artist designers artistic collaborators here in San Diego and we started to meet

01:41 People that

01:43 Were part of this this kind of burgeoning Museum or Museum that was sort of Reinventing itself in a new space, right?

01:53 So

01:56 So yeah and brings us all the way to today.

01:59 Where you just finished a very recent exhibition with them?

02:08 Absolutely, one of the things that you know kind of thing I will say this song as the main connection to the new children's museum here in San Diego. I actually created a piece in the 2013 coal wobbleland, which is an interactive a space Dedicated To Toddlers. And for that project in particular. I I think it's one of my I will say my kind of a strongest accomplishments here and then you know where the museum because we were able to not only of course see that the process and the level of interaction with with all the community but also just to be able to actually create another hydration basically of the same project for different locations. I'm hoping that can go actually too many areas in the country are many museums children museum in the country. So even before

03:08 2013 which is the reason why I do feel that kind of way. I actually mention to one of our one of the staff members here at the museum that I felt that I was kind of embedded into the walls of the museum and that's and that's kind of funny to say but I feel like it's kind of impregnated like the museum has not only be extremely important to us because of all the level of kind of connections that we have had with different programs. But also with the people that were here, so I think that that's something that I'm extremely proud of and that I learn from every single day, you know, as a new children's museum. We've been right at home with a preteen daughter, you know, who's feeling less and less like a like a child ever by the day where we started here with, you know infants. We were invited.

04:08 To come to the grand opening of the museum because the the director the time right new that we had this new family that we were artists and that and that we just needed to know about the place and so, you know, it's basically been

04:25 Watching our kids.

04:30 Grow up, not necessarily always like directly involved in the museum, but you know, they've been to nearly every exhibit that's ever been in this place. They've seen our relationship change with it, you know, the the the leucine the staff kind of come and go and move up through this place and so when you talk about

05:00 Being involved in a place in a year you kind of have to talk about it like like the Ebbs and flows of family and you know what those contacts are and when you see them and you know, so I'm thinking about that anger might I think that you know a little bit about what he makes fun of her. Great different side of this Museum and undefiled that we were connected not just because we had children but also because we had these practices baby cuz we were Educators and also because somehow we wanted to be a little bit more involved with the Contemporary Art. So how do you feel that that not only has brought to a

05:45 I know Gigandet the idea of of of the city and the community to be able to have a museum with such a different mission statement again.

05:55 Different of course to any other kind of Contemporary Art Museum or even just regular Children's Museum that we've always been and I know I have both of us are in that weird. We've always been drawn to the mission here because it's a very different set of stakeholders right to use a term from a lot of other Arts institutions and working through public art culture on institutions. You know, when your stakeholders are in general under 10 years old. They have a very different

06:32 Set of values in the way that they approach your art. And for me ride the art making process is always been experiential only will ever take on a project if I have some things to learn from it some new experience to gain from it or some experience that I want to see other people have I want to see those things happen and you know when you're making work to be interacted with by children that's assertive beautifully built into it and there's not a three-year-old in the world. That's like that wants to know about the logistics of a project or you know, how much it cost. They're not asking you quite technical questions about how you made the thing, you know, they

07:25 Experience it with open eyes and with Wonder and Siri say yeah. Yeah. Yeah, and so

07:36 So all of those things that I think we like are constantly pushing the constantly pushing the borders back when we're dealing with other.

07:49 Institutions other modes of working through the Arts to try and maintain that like purity of experience.

07:57 Cure just comes natural. That's like the Baseline. That's the given and so I think that's who you know, what what draws us to this place is that it is that it ends up feeling natural, not like a struggle, right?

08:15 Yeah, I feel.

08:20 You know and and our latest projects we talked about Wonder an hour, you know looking for these environments that create Wonder.

08:31 And I know for you.

08:34 You know, you're always looking for that sort of like that magical moment a reality place to

08:42 Put some of those things aside and so going back to even trying to connect to magical. I think that we are not human beings. We all one that we all want some sort of magic just thinking a little bit about wobble land and try to remember kind of what he went through. The reason for that particular project what has come out of it and I'm going to go because it's something that he was very kind of simple for me to have connected with a particular idea again for for the listeners. Of course, it's every time that I talk about wobble line. Are you there? I'm next to it or can they showing the references to images? But it's it's basically largest Kelso installation that it's all about elements from a kitchen sink ride when you are cooking for your toddler who doesn't want to eat who needs to have a lot of fun.

09:42 Who everything has to be to call her and text her and and sizes? I think that Obsession of not need no, I didn't try to be creative words for such a simple thing. You think about all of those things while you're trying to wash dishes or why you are just kind of getting rid of some of the crap that idea of what I just came from the same as he cruises through the house not wanting to put anything as well as pays for for the for an audience that I would that we had at the moment, right? We had our you know, our son's name is Sai Sai picky eater thinking about that set of a space of the kitchen sink spell to me that I wanted to see what was there and all of those pieces of food again kind of look.

10:42 To me and Sublime going to get in the magical sword of his kill very interesting to me and that's what that project and kind of the connection. So that was made in the beginning which is kind of pedagogical because in the one of the reasons why I was actually invited to do a proposal for for the for that particular audience was because I used to I did a couple of large-scale insulation speed also related to food. One of them was I forgot to California Center for the Arts. We can actually create a Pisco Esperanto all around the idea of what he wasn't just about fully was about the lack of food because Esperanto and again kind of goes back to the idea of Esperanza, which is Hope Came in Spanish and came to realize that actually the reason for the language to have a green flag. It was all because I'm the reason why I kind of hope is green is because of them.

11:42 For that particular language, which is just a green circle and kind of doing all of those connections that allow me to present the word that he was all related to kind of that idea of of making larger the things that we have a lock off and I grew up in Columbia with a family that leave the lyrics part of daily life basis. We had a refrigerator, but of course, that was very nothing to Amos Lee Charlie. I actually did a lot of drawings that we're just empty refrigerators ID can kind of the refrigerator lady here in San Diego with you the first time the Colombian opening up your mom's fridge and there was a nice mask a packet of ketchup and valleys about it are all the other food was you run to the store and grab green onions and you took that for the day when when the store that little store in the corner

12:41 We text Julius it's a it's a woman with that little grocery store kind of her house. And then we used to just go there to get 20 pesos of tomatoes 20% green onions because that's we have to go with that every single day and so are you know, it's kind of going back to the appreciation that great appreciation of something that again it becomes essential to your life and you don't think about it in the moment, but I was extremely thankful that I did that on that I and that I had sort of

13:15 Kind of that deep connection. Is it too late to my mother, you know cooking for us every single day and I'm leaving the turtle light I will leave and so I expect creating very large objects again. I'd actually did large green tomato green tomatoes and and I mean red tomato and the green onions and after that I think that's coming back from that relationship to this sort of larger scale objects. It really isn't a shift of a perception and which I think is extremely important here at the Museum, right?

13:49 We think that of course the intellect, you know, we learn to the internet that children learn all so, you know through their senses and perception is extremely important to our existing human beings are so anyways, I'm sure one of the things available and also is that all of these large projects are impossible for me to accomplish without my husband because I think that partnership wish I want to ask you. What do you keep the motivation to kind of agree with working with me through all these projects?

14:34 Well, if I didn't help build these things I'd never see you cuz he's got it they have to get done sometime right? Of course. I mean Everything is Everything is a family Endeavor. We we always talk about not being able to separate life from practice and and we're lucky enough not to have to you know, being involved in many of the same projects.

15:06 But his design Partners is fabrication Partners having very different skill sets within the same field is something that's allowed you and I to have a a partnership in in life, but and for lack of a better term in business as well on so so everything ends up intertwined and intermingled and I think

15:37 It is far as Art and Design goes like the best projects come from things that are like heavily heavily intertwined in life and metaphor and reality and culture and education, you know, so, you know, when you it always makes stories about projects like wobble and or the way we got involved with the museum which started off with with migraine Century piece, which was in the room next door to your food piece a California Center for the Arts. I'm coming here, you know to museum folks that have moved from that place to this place that you know, remember those interactions and relationships. So we've built for 15 years, right? It's a fact that like there's never a direct I there's never a direct line at least not in my life. You know that

16:37 That it it makes it very difficult to tell the story right because there's no straight beginning. There's no straight end. And so I'm going to keep inserting myself into your story and your work and you do the same for me it which one is, you know, we're getting

16:56 You know 16 years down the road here to a point where they are different practices and are different shows. I think they're often sort of indistinguishable from from what we do together. And so yeah, I even have a hard time answering that like why why cuz I don't really know any other. I don't know any other way.

17:20 You know anecdotes that I guess like tie back to you no food in the way that you think about objects. I mean, I love kind of the absurdity of objects in our struggle to like make things and Surround ourselves with things that stylistically we like what not, you know is is one thing but then I always enjoy watching.

17:47 The wave

17:51 The way that sometimes being a little bit of a cultural Outsider gives you a fresh set of eyes on things in a reminds me to renew that that in myself. And so when you're talking about the refrigerator and talking about the food all I can go back to his thinking about the day we were listening to radio and they're doing a broadcast about like how to save energy in and be more efficient around the house and they talked about how a full refrigerator was more energy efficient because there is less air space in it and there is more thermal Mass to take Eva. So when you open the door, you didn't waste as much energy that you just don't worry about it cuz there's nothing but to see that sort of wash over you and just feel so

18:51 Like strange and foreign like this thing, that's

18:57 I do stuff there's always food in the fridge and took me a while to understand the concept behind left of it. Like I just like explain it to me again is definitely I have I wanted a lot about you not that time, of course around all of these ideas, which I'm extremely also thankful just to see the level of contrast now we have of course and the way we leave the way we think because of all so, you know kind of what our contacts tell us that you know, how we should do it. I guess bottom.

19:37 But yeah, I I think that kind of going back a little bit too kind of our practices and the things that we find essential right? I'd like to talk about it. I think that I think it's important is important to you know, if I always on that little bit about that kind of how we can refine awareness especially since we are the Educators how we are able to not only offer that sort of thing and physical experience to you North Republic card or through excavation something like that. But how we are also kind of Target in different things that might be kind of important to our context.

20:22 And in that regard, I just wanted to you know, hear from you and Grandma. I always kind of wanted a little bit about our strengths the things that we are able to you know, share in general. What do you think are your strongest strength as a father as and what do you think you're able to or how you're able to connect?

20:53 I think

20:57 I think growing up.

21:01 I think as a kid I always felt.

21:06 I'm even know if felt is right where it always always strived or wanted to be a bit of like a chameleon, you know, like I didn't ever care about necessarily being the best at any particular thing, but I always always felt like I wanted to be able to relate to as many different people as many different groups in as many different activities as I could, you know, like, you know in school. Yeah and sports. I didn't I didn't want to be the best athlete but I wanted to be good enough that I could share that experience with other people, you know, I didn't need to be class valedictorian but you know, I wanted to let you know I wanted to be able to have those conversations. I always was looking for ways to relate to his many different groups and people and experiences I could and so

22:04 UniFirst that kind of curiosity and wanting to have information Lionel led me to The Sciences at first, but it's

22:14 As much as I love that way of learning and thinking

22:18 It was a never narrowing.

22:21 System of information I was getting more and more specific and as I got into the Arts and learned about educate and an education. I realize that it was like a broadening practice.

22:33 And that has always felt perfect to me. You know, I is I get really good at different techniques are dealing with different materials.

22:46 I want to say I lose interest in them. But I lose a little bit of excitement for the challenge of being a novice at something. I love that.

22:56 Moment of fear of being a novice at something and still trying to like stick The Landing, you know, so I think that my probably is as an educator maybe is a father to is that I just want to say yes a lot like yeah, let's try this. Yeah, you should you should definitely do this. We should definitely you know, and so I know doesn't know is a very unnatural thing for me to say I always want to

23:32 Yeah, okay, let's do you know let's try that. Let's see where that takes us and and was students and I think this translates to our kids as well, but as educators are there for their students?

23:47 You know what? I just

23:50 I don't always get to have that moment of Discovery anymore. So I get to live vicariously through my students a little bit when I see them, you know have a moment of Discovery a moment of Enlightenment. They know they cross a hurdle with a concept through material or technique that they're doing, you know, like I get the share that with him and I definitely want to feel like I'm

24:17 Walking like next to them in that process as opposed to being somewhere down the path being like that is over here. You know like yeah, I'm not sure how that's going to come out. Let's let's try it. Let's make it and so yeah, so so I like to collaborate that way and I guess that's what kind of brings me back to what I enjoy about actually working on your projects as well with you is that is that they're not mine is that I have a very particular, you know, like I have a set of standards that I want things to be finished to and concerns that I'm interested in and yours a very different and so and I'm helping you to work on a project I can put mine, you know away and I know like note this is the type. This is where I'm going with this and it's a new set of challenges in on so, so yeah, I enjoy that.

25:17 Sometimes even Opus it right. I think that most of the time office bedtime songs on Spotify greeman. And again, this is for collaborate specific collaborations specificity of public art. When do you think the moment happens because I was like, that's not at all true or fair this maybe just a little true know I think

25:52 But I think it just gets back to the fact that that I thinking.

25:59 More ways than others we do and body a little bit of that like opposites not necessarily attract. But at least we at least we even each other out a little you know, like

26:13 I can I can spend way too much time getting too many people's opinions about something. You know, I love kind of working collaboratively as long as I'm moving forward. I don't like it just

26:26 Continuously wonder about what we're going to do, but I do like to get people's opinions. I like to try ideas out.

26:37 And I want to put words in your mouth. But I know that you don't that, you know, even you know, you'll ask me what I think about something that you're working on it. I reserve comment because I know that

26:50 Because I know that you take it more seriously when somebody does comment and and and it can affect you differently. So.

27:03 Hide, I guess.

27:08 I guess I feel like we just work best together when we when we meet in the middle when you say

27:19 About that just because because it can be difficult right when when you have a point of view about solving that problem. But I think that how it can be solved better was the was the best possibility so is this constant negotiation and I think that anything that I personally love our marriage because of that I think that it's always it's always exciting. It's always something to just call it's always something to to I don't know how to define kind of the perfect balance right because of all of that. I think that game I'm always very thankful that now we are able to constantly be talkin about, you know about our jobs.

28:18 Commitment to the Urbana space or or even right now I've been doing work and then the ocean underwater if I think that all of that brings just extreme so those beautiful challenges.

28:33 I mean, I think that's probably you know, I feel like

28:38 Eat that and in some ways, you know.

28:43 How do I say when you

28:48 Will you involve me in these design process is like that's it's it's showing me something different and those challenges and I think that ends in some ways that bring some balance to the fact that

29:08 That you've basically completely.

29:12 Reinvented yourself from the moment that we met just to be able to go on this adventure with me. Right? And so it's funny like I do it in a very small part in our design practice, you know, but from the moment we met you learned a different language.

29:30 Partially so you could go to school here, but I would say mostly so that we could communicate so that we can talk just get the degree in foreign. You know, I mean for all the brawl that the US has got going for it. There's a lot of those essential things that are so important to you that I think they're sort of the opposite culturally of the way that we are here in the Sol and I I wonder

30:13 I wonder how you negotiate that.

30:15 Because I know that you do it.

30:19 For me for the kids for the family here and that you're always Longing To You know to

30:28 I don't know stay connected to foot in each place in.

30:34 I think that I'm course, you know, I do it in silence in I I do try to always keep truth to that truthful full to Dad the way how you have been but I have to to to understand the world. I tried to be very sincere to who I used to be a fool or the way how I I perceived, you know, our surroundings or whatever it is. I tried to be connected to that and I think that's the only reason why I even if it's some practice that it's very different to something that I will have done in Columbia. I tried to go back to what it makes sense to me from that perspective is that is comfortable with me that I feel that I'm continuing very being sincere. But usually I just feel very quietly. I try not to talk too much about it because of horses.

31:34 It's difficult.

31:43 Because you want to speak of course.

31:48 You know, I'm not afraid of the universe away, but cause you and I've always being that sort of individual and I think that that can be done kind of a secret. I don't want as you said before I do want to relate also to a larger so, you know Community or or voice thing that you went through.

32:15 I always feel like we're still emerging artist. But at this point we've been in it for long enough. I guess this is what we're doing. But really when we were finding our feet in the community here in San Diego. I remember you really struggling with a things that folks would see as being very positive people. I couldn't wait to hear you tell stories about your imagery and you know, they they related to the imagery as as an image. They related to the technique of the way that you made are in the way that you presented these things. But I remember you starting to tell stories about that work tell stories about your mom about your family about experiences is a child and always feeling just a little bit uncomfortable that like you were

33:04 They that

33:08 The here in the US like we really like they're here, I guess in San Diego in particular maybe even with our connection to you know, Mexico and Central and South America and Jen everybody always strives to like reach across that that there was somehow that your experience as you're more colloquial experiences of growing up. We're like being almost like fetishized, you know, they everybody loved him cuz they felt so quaint, you know, and it's not the right word, but you know what? I mean, you tell those stories getting done with that and feeling like

33:49 The this somehow the story was to enter like to entertaining it was too foreign. It was like, yeah, it was like this of being foreign and what that and so I'm interested to hear you just kind of want to talk about it if that's changed for you if you feel like it has as you become more part of this place or I just feel that again. I didn't that I'm still kind of working through that, you know, because because one more time again, I've been here the concert for 19 years do I I want which I've actually had a conversation years ago in Cerritos College or around these issues at what point how many years do you need to feel that you be long or to feel that use identities? Somebody know or that or that all the sudden? I'm an American like, what is that mean and I feel bad again. It's probably one of the most difficult.

34:49 Gone through very Silence of the state. I just feel that.

34:56 I'm still going to I feel like a Colombian I feel that.

35:01 Those begin the beginning of your life is something that nobody can take away from you. And I think that that's a reason why again children. The idea of children is so extremely important because because of that because it can never be taken away and I think that the way how we shape that we have to be responsible because again, I haven't shaved in a very particular way and then there is born about about that. I can be very sincere about who I am and I and I tried to keep doing it how ever again with a little bit more of her meticulous. How do I look today that I don't try to to say louder who I you know, because I feel that that's just my problem. Nobody else that I came from from South America.

36:01 But anyway, I think that that's essentially just probably one of the reasons why makes my mouth water every time that I think about project for the new children's museum what the artists are doing the people that were here, right? So I just wanted to tell you something, you know bass in life and Ingram just thinking I also think a lot a little bit about metaphors rain you think about these Museum as a vessel that container or even the Powell that you can bring out on this quiz something that you squished right? And that that drape comes out. Can you may be driving towards? What does Rick can be of this play like a population that you're working with? You know that this idea that

36:58 Didn't those early years your experience can be like culturally homogenized right? It can be something that gives you an identity that it can be really hard to break free from Britain this idea that you this idea that a lot of times we strive or struggle or want to be the other within our own personality. And so, you know, you said like your childhood is is who you are and it's your foundation, but it's also that thing that you then have to overcome and so here you're dealing with a population in audience. That's

37:38 That's still building that you know where it's still just wonder and experience. You know, there's not those culturally relevant things. And so I think that's it. I think you know, you just you squeeze all of that kind of crazy chaotic frenetic energy out of a place like this institution. Like that's where we're if everybody's experience can be wrapped up in

38:16 In in things that aren't connected specifically to place to culture II time to scale. You know, that that the more wonder you have I think the more free you are to to develop those relationships later in life, if if those things as a child don't feel so cemented, you know to a place to add time to a culture to do I not at least maybe that's my kind of utopian view of it.

38:49 Certainly something I've always strive for growing up in the east coast. I always connected to my parents having lived in Germany for a little while. So I had this thing about being another about being, you know, moved every four years so that I didn't ever feel too rooted in a place. We can reinvent ourselves and in fine Wonder in a community wonder and a place and all of that, you know again,

39:14 And of course your children now here we are trying to like sure ate their experience of that and keep them open as well and so can our save the world.

39:30 Can we do that? No, no, not on its own, but I also certainly don't want to face face the world without poetry and metaphor in Wonder being a world that has unanswered questions seems like a really sad place to me. And so yeah, I don't think I don't think art.

39:59 And save the world, but I certainly don't want to live in one without him. I don't want any part of it.

40:12 Well, it's fine to be here yet again, and another experience the the place is giving us another experience. And so thanks for hanging out with me for a bit. Then your disposal. Thank you so much.