Featured Artist: Interview with Elizabeth McGrath

November 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

Elizabeth McGrath…wow what can I say? She’s simply my favorite sculptor ever. Her work is so creepy but beautiful. Llamas with top hats. Three-headed women. A dog with bat wings.

I contacted her a few months ago and she was kind enough to answer some questions for me. I’ve been waiting until this blog got a bit more traffic before featuring her, because I want more people to know about her! She’s just so amazing!

You can see some of her sculptures at www.elizabethmcgrath.com

FR: Hi Elizabeth. Thanks so much for this. I really love your work and it’s exciting to know a little bit more about you as an artist. I guess we can get started. Do you have any special methods of working?

EM: Not really, I used to do odd art projects, window displays,  teaching and art directing so I’m used to working in odd locations and in front of a lot of people. But I do find that I do my best work when I can work for like 36 hours straight by myself or with a quiet assistant, listening to music or audio books, then I sleep and when I wake up its weird to see what I’ve actually made!

FR: What materials are you most comfortable working with?

EM: I have been working with foam, magic sculpt, fabrics, acrylics, oil, but i have recently been really into ceramics, and have been trying to find more Eco friendly materiel’s to work with.

FR: Can you describe your style and what influenced you? Has your style changed over time?

EM: I am horrible at describing what I do! But people have said that it’s sometimes dark, whimsical, mythological. My style has definitely changed, I am a lot more open to experimenting with different colors and such. I hope it will continue to evolve!

FR: What is your educational background (colleges, art programs, clubs)?

EM: I went to Pasadena City College, and East LA City College for years, though I never finished a class! I would go till I figured out with it was I wanted to learn from the class and then stop going, I think I learned most of the techniques I use from working on job sites, film sets, window displays, and any odd job I picked up along the way, I look back on some of the things I did and shudder! I took on jobs way beyond my skill level especially as a teenager, but it pushed me to always try to do better!

FR: Who are your major clients or buyers and your favorite clients or buyers?

EM: I don’t really know. The gallery usually handles that, but I occasionally make things and sell them at places like the Royal-T in Culver city, which I love, and I have met a few collectors who have been really amazing!

FR: What are your current and past projects? Favorite project?

Right now I’m working on a new book. My friend Cecil B Feeder is making a documentary about my work so he’ll be filming me over the next year. They did a screening of it at the NY MOMA a few months ago.
Some of my favorite projects have been my shows at BSFA [Baltimore School for the Arts]. It was such a great space. I always had a great time transforming it!
I love doing shows overseas. It’s always a challenge to put something together when you’re not in your environment, which is always fun! I was in several bands. We toured a lot all over and with some great acts. I love recording. There’s always something going on its hard to choose favorites.

FR: What is your favorite subject matter to do for fun?

EM: Well, I don’t know if it counts as a subject matter, but I love to travel, and I love to hit roadside attractions. I say it’s for research to later be developed into a project, but I think it is really more for fun then anything else.

FR: What is your opinion on the current art market?

EM: I dont know anything about the fine art market, but I am familiar with the lowbrow, pop surealism, underground type establishment. I think it has slowed down compared to when I first started, which is just a reflection of the current state of the economy, but when I first started there was an emergence of these neighborhood galleries popping up everywhere, especially in the “lowbrow” genre. 
LA had been a hard place for people, especially young people, to experience art. The museums and galleries were miles away from the suburbs and our transportation systems are hard to navigate. And in many schools its not even in the curriculum. The museums also had a history of showing art that really excluded the majority of the population, but with the emergence of underground art galleries it has become more accessible and affordable to a wider audience. It went from a handful of galleries in a few states to literally at least one in every state across America and several countries around the world. So it’s been a great and growing market even if the economy has slowed it down a bit. I think this market will continue to grow as this kind of art has become viable. And it’s been a great source of inspiration to a younger generation who are now getting to experience and participate in it. It’s also influencing the museums to show art that has more of a connection with the community.

Well said. I’m excited that lowbrow art is becoming kind of the norm in city art scenes, and is spreading so fast as a popular genre. Well I hope you enjoyed that interview with Elizabeth McGrath. Until next time…

Much Love,
Fair Rabbit

(All images copyright Elizabeth McGrath or their respected owners)


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