We had the good fortune of connecting with Malado Francine Baldwin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Malado Francine, can you tell us about an impactful book you’ve read and why you liked it or what impact it had on you?
I have been slowly reading The Overstory by Richard Powers this spring. I’ll pick up other books, and news, but keep coming back to passages in this book; re-reading and dog-earing pages, reveling in its luscious use of language. I’m taking it as slow as I need. In this quiet, reflective time, I’m finding solace in remarking on all the little things and how they connect: ”Join enough living things together, through the air and underground, and you wind up with something that has intention….“ p. 284, The Overstory.
It’s been a rainy winter in LA, and now things are growing and blooming as we sit in isolation this spring. I’ve taken comfort in my little garden, in the bugs and birds and branches spanning—and in walking around my neighborhood witnessing the newly greener trees and climbing vines, flowers on every corner begging for attention—and the birds, everyone is talking about the birds. As our cities quieted and the air cleared, the animals, especially the birds, seemed to be rejoicing. It’s such a pleasure—my family, friends are talking about it: how their songs seem louder these days.
”People have no corner on curios behavior. Other creatures—bigger, slower, older, more durable—call the shots, make the weather, feed creation, and create the very air.” -p.114
I find that The Overstory is an interesting reminder to meditate on our place in the world, and what it means to live in harmony: the inter-connectedness of our human-family and its broader earth-family. “It could be the eternal project of mankind, to learn what forests have figured out.” -p. 285
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I know I am not the only artist that feels sad that so many art-world events are postponed or cancelled. I was really looking forward to our 5-screen film exhibition of ‘Lux/Nox: Alchemy’ series (with co-director Sarah Walko), at a gallery along the High Line in New York City this May. I also had planned a solo show of works on paper in Paris this summer. In the absence of those shows, however, and with more time to make new work- I have kept busy.
During the quarantine, I felt the need to work on something upbeat and colorful. I have been experimenting with enlarging small, bright drawings and turning them in to pop-ups, or multi-dimensional collages. You can even open windows in the drawings and see drawings beneath them. I’ve also been animating them.
The series is “Little Reminders,” which I initially started making as a young woman out of college living in New York city post-911. They are bright, fun, and intuitive. I made them from post-it (sticky) notes that I took while at work, doodling while on the phone, or at home at the end of the day. At the time they were a private way to remind myself that I was an ‘artist’ while working other jobs to support myself. Now they are a constant habit, and I have made hundreds of these small drawings since then, in a series that includes large-scale prints, collage, and animation.
Recently I designed a set of talismans – good luck charms imbued with magic – that I am finding really helpful right now. ‘Malado’ means ‘good luck,” so I translated that idea in to pendants made for luck and protection. Inspired by ancient keys and veil weights, the designs combine sacred geometry with symbology. I premiered them in a show of sacred ornaments at the Philosophical Research Society in Los Angeles. They are unisex-designed 3D-printed pendants with ‘magic’ properties. The one I am wearing in the photo is specifically for creative inspiration. I am wearing it all the time lately! (If you are curious, you can find them on Instagram @Malado_charms).
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love my neighborhood of Los Feliz in LA- it is such a sweet village within a city! I can walk to Griffith park for hikes, see the observatory and science center, go to Barnsdall Art center for classes, shows, and great fireworks views…. I can check out Skylight Books and see films at the two nearby Vintage Theaters. When friends visit from around the world I love to show them my neighborhood first– then we branch out and do the west-side and the beaches, and of course the desert. (Who doesn’t love Joshua Tree?)
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We have so many mentors and guides in this life: human, animal, spiritual … They can even be moments of epiphany or life challenges that drive innovation. I am grateful for the ride, and all the guides, that I have encountered.
I would especially like to thank the friends and mentors who have helped me discover and learn meditative, healing, and healthy practices. I find that during this surreal time, these skills are invaluable and generous to the giver and receiver in immeasurable ways.
I am also grateful to everyone who has given me opportunities by inviting me to be in shows, and nominated me for grants. I’m especially grateful to other artists, collectors, and curators who have been so generous with me; ones I’ve collaborated, shown, been on panels with, and shared studio visits with! And thank you for this interview- sharing my artwork with others is a gift.
Linkedin: Malado Francine Baldwin
Facebook: Malado Francine
Other: Vimeo – Malado Francine
Film Freeway – Malado Francine
All images courtesy of the Artist.