We had the good fortune of connecting with Marguerita Hagan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marguerita, how do you think about risk?
When your mother finds you walking across the mantlepiece at 9 months, it’s clear from the start that life is an open-armed discovery.
Risk? What is risk, really? It’s all relative.
It’s never occurred to me to choose “safe” over what I love. Love is an investment so there is no sense of risk. However, it requires focus, listening and following intuition. For me it is a responsibility. It is instinctive. Today, it is more vital than ever.
What one cannot risk is allowing life, your path, your passion to pass you by. This quote by Helen Keller was printed on my business card for many years:
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is a daring adventure, or nothing.”
It is hard to imagine the challenges she knew, which makes her insight all the more powerful. As a working artist and single parent, I raised two 2 daughters from ages 2 and 4. After 27 years in Seattle, my move to Philadelphia to earn my MFA may have appeared risky. For me, it was following my next step although full of unknowns.
Tremendous leaps yield the greatest growth and assets. I felt my molecules were completely rearranging during this time preparing me and my practice for a new trajectory. This took every ounce of spirit I had. Experience speaks to the rich dividends, insights and joy that accompanies each opportunity. What supports individual well-being is collectively beneficial with the view that all life is interdependent. Considering this universal connection clearly frames the responsibility of our choices as we craft the pending future of Earth now. Anything less than transformation risks it all.
Here we stand on a climacteric precipice as a planet. Nature has delivered a global wake up call to reset our perspective, systems and accountability as social and environmental ambassadors. The most dangerous of all is to ignore this call. We must live like our lives depend on it, because they do. We have the resources within ourselves to restore the balance of our beautiful blue planet together. One step at a time.
Jacques Cousteau said, “People Protect What They Love.” I say, Fall in love. Now.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a ceramic sculptor based in Philadelphia. As an advocate for the thriving of all life in mutually sustainable communities and environments, the concept of interdependence plays throughout my sculpture, teaching and community arts. While nature grabs our planet collectively by the shoulders, the interconnected focus of my practice grows in practical necessity. We need each other, kindness and compassion.
Throughout my career, my ceramic sculpture has brought to light the beauty and engineering of our planet’s diverse ecosystems and our powerful role within this delicate balance. The convex ceramic forms or “shields” conceived years ago with my Wildlife series are a concept of protection. They also honor family lineage and in this case, the species with which we share the planet.
My sculptural La Mer series reveals life of the ocean from the mighty microscopic gems to the blue whale. At this intensified time of climate change, the unseen yet largest and essential element on earth, the ocean needs our help. At the intersection of art and science, the sculpture magnifies awareness, protection and respect of the marine life providing our every other breath. Over 50% of Earth’s oxygen is photosynthesized in the ocean by one-cell primary producers. They form exquisite networks called “colonies” in mutual support of our entire planet. Water is life and all life on Earth began in the sea. If microscopic organisms can sustain an entire planet for hundreds of millions of years, imagine what we can achieve together.
Recent work abstracts the elements of marine life from microscopic organisms to coral reef ecosystems and beyond. The intricate ceramic forms shine light on the wonder and respect for the fragile, diverse and mostly little known life of the sea with which our lives are intrinsically linked. My practice is an ongoing discovery, magnifying our reciprocal responsibility. My inspiration comes from literally diving in the ocean whenever possible, research, visiting and collaborating with scientists, marine ecologists and artists. Projects include creative healing with communities in trauma and violence, community arts with diverse ages & people, environmental, art & science residencies, lectures, teaching, studio program, installations and exhibits nationally and internationally.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in Philadelphia but if visiting LA, naturally have to go to the Pacific. I would visit scientist Stuart Sandin, professor of marine ecology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla to see the latest on his global projects following the health of coral reefs. Getting in some diving would be amazing.
An essential is seeing my favorite actor in LA, Madeline McCuskey and have her show me her favorite spots. Fun to catch up with LA based film editor, Greg Gheorghiu. To add perspective I would visit the Griffith Observatory, hike the hills and spend time at Watts Towers.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
A heart-felt thank you to Caitlin McCormack for my acknowledgement in her interview and this invitation.
I am grateful for the forever support from loving family and friends, especially the light of my artist mother and grandmother.
The most profound support I have known as an artist comes from my creative partner in life, Pierre Trombert.
Photos by Richard W. Gretzinger, Marguerita Hagan & Pierre Trombert.