Mia Rollins was determined to pursue a career in figure skating; ultimately, turning her passion into her dream job. At age 18 an ankle injury destroyed this possibility. Devastated, Rollins turned to a different creative avenue – art. She attended Brown University where she received a bachelor’s degree in Visual Art and Modern Culture. Rollins now works full time as an artist and actively applies to show her work in galleries across the United States.  

On Jan. 8, Rollins’s exhibit, Phantasmagoria opened at 3S Artspace located in Portsmouth, NH alongside Craig Hill’s exhibit, ClusterPhantasmagoria and Cluster will remain open until Feb. 28, 2021 and both exhibits can be viewed in-person or online.  

Rollins responded to 3S Artspace’s open call while she was living and working in New York just over a year ago.  

“I try to get 100 rejections a year,” said Rollins. “It’s a weird tip I heard from an artist I worked for at one point, so I apply to a lot of shows.” 

While it was one of many galleries she applied to, it quickly became a perfect match. Rollins’s has had family living in Portsmouth and Exeter, NH for most of her life which gave her a unique opportunity to create a show based off her own memories of Portsmouth. By sharing her own memories through dioramas, optical illusions and objects with a special meaning to her, the viewer is able to conjure up their own memories of Portsmouth and reflect.  

Phantasmagoria calls to those of us who have a love for the Seacoast and have collected so many memories here over the years,” said Sara O’Reilly, 3S Artspace’s Marketing Manager. “I think it also gives us a place to share and exchange our memories and experiences at a time when it’s very easy to feel isolated. Mia’s work is dreamy and playful and delivers a feeling of lightness to all of us in need of that right now.” 

Phantasmagoria is not a word many people have encountered. It is uniquely named because while the art reflects memories, it is not all drawn from reality or perfect recollection.  

“I encountered the word Phantasmagoria in a book I have on old cinematic practices,” said Rollins. “When I looked it up, it’s a word that means a parade, collection, or sequence of imagery, encounters, or experiences that are on the border of dreams and reality. I thought what a perfect and weird word to describe the work I make.” 

Part of Rollins’s exhibit is an interactive piece titled the “Phantastic Hotline.” Attendees (virtually or in-person) are encouraged to call the hotline at (615) 974 – 6311 and leave a message sharing their own memories, thoughts, or feelings about Portsmouth. For people who attend the exhibit in-person, from time to time you will hear voices in the gallery coming from a speaker, these voices are the messages being played from the “Phantastic Hotline.” For people who virtually view the exhibit, there is an online location to listen to the messages.  

Rollins found that her loss of figure skating pushed her into a different creative outlet and career. She is now attending Rhode Island School of Design and pursuing an M.F.A. in sculpture.  

Photos Courtesy of Mia Rollins