We had the good fortune of connecting with Margaret Griffith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Margaret, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment, or awaking to our true nature, to our fundamental goodness.- Pema Chodron I like Chodron’s use of the term “groundlessness” and how the life experience is in a constant state of change- and it is ok. What appears to be static or permanent is not and it reminds me that too much focus on control can create suffering- to just lean in and be with what is. I bring these impulses into my artwork which has been influenced in part by Eastern philosophy.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I make large scale installations- in fact it is really hard for me to work small! I have spent the past decade investigating gates and fences through my artwork. I look at fabricated manmade barriers as metaphors for security, privacy, and so forth, providing a false sense of security in a fragile world. I am most proud of my 2017 installation 15th, 17th and Pennsylvania that was commissioned by Diverseworks, Houston, TX for the exhibition Lines Drawn. This piece was based on the gates of the White House. Once heralded as a place for the people, it has become an institution in crisis. Since making that work even more barricades surround the White house, including concrete barriers, fences around La Fayette Park, and more. I will be exhibiting this work again in January, 2021 at the Brand Library Art Center in Glendale, CA. I love working with paper and exploiting it as a sculptural material- not just as a surface to draw on. Right now, I am really excited about combining both laser and hand cut processes together to make works out of Yupo paper. I love the durability of this paper and how it cuts and handles paint so well. I am currently working with circles in my cut-outs in different scales and patterns using this paper. I have also been learning how to weld and started working on a steel sculpture that consists of thin strips of steel welded together to form a long line. I made this out of paper last year and envisioned it in metal as well. This metal piece is going to be part a new project based on redlining. Professionally, as long as I am making work the rest seems to fall into place. I used to worry about the work and where it was going but it seems to flow better when I focus on the making more than the results. Challenges throughout the years have been finding adequate studio space, galleries closing down, and balancing time between making art, teaching full time and raising a family. I would want the world to know that everyone has a voice and something important to say. And that you can keep a paper sculpture forever just as easily as metal or plastic if you take care of it.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live in the foothills of Altadena with my family and enjoy the local hiking trails- so I would start there. We would pick up pizza close by from POV (Pizza of Venice) on Fair Oaks. I also like Urth Café and True Food in Pasadena -however they have been closed or take out only due to Covid-19. My other favorite places to visit with friends would include the Hollywood Bowl and the Walt Disney Hall to watch and listen to the LA Philharmonic perform. We would also go to LACMA to see Chris Burden’s Urban Lights and Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass which are located outside of the museum, The Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park, Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier- if they haven’t been there before.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to acknowledge Howard N. Fox, Emeritus Curator of Contemporary Art at LACMA for his encouragement, support and advocacy. His writings on my work are included in the Paperworks catalog which accompanied the Paperworks exhibition that Fox curated at the Craft and Folk Art Museum (now Craft Contemporary) in 2016 and the recent essay We are Close/Please Come In for my recent catalog Margaret Griffith Installation/Sculpture at the Brandstader Gallery at La Sierra University, 2020. The catalog can be found here at https://www.blurb.com/b/9996819-margaret-griffith-sculpture-installation-final and was designed by Tim Musso. I am also very appreciative of many others that have supported my work through the years, including Ruth Bachofner and Western Project. Both galleries provided space and opportunity for me to cultivate my artistic practice here in Los Angeles, in addition to many independent curators and The Davyd Whaley Foundation. The book I would like to mention is Earthworks and Beyond, Contemporary Art in the Landscape by John Beardsley. At the age of sixteen, this book introduced me to radical ideas by artists who were thinking outside the box, not limited to a square canvas or a rectilinear sheet of paper and were working out in the landscape. Rather than forms occupying space they were exploring the space inside of the void. These concepts changed how I thought about visual art.
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