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Meet Emily Maddigan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Emily Maddigan.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I grew up in North East Metro Detroit, the suburbs of a forgotten city. I started making things like we all have, when I was a kid. I was blessed to have a mother and grandmother who made all types of crafts from a variety of materials, so naturally this part was nurtured in me as I grew up. If I was in trouble, I would get grounded, and the only thing I was allowed to do was stay at home and make art. I remember picking up furniture off the street and painting it in the back yard. I didn’t take an art class till I was a senior in high school. I collected yucca leaves and made a Pomo style basket, it took a serious amount of time to make, and I still have the basket, and I loved every “pain staking” minute of it.

I went to MSU and majored in art, while there I traveled to Mexico and Africa for school and was heavily influenced by the way other cultures reuse and re-purpose materials. I remember standing in a home with all the labels from the cans carefully pasted to the walls as wallpaper I soaked in every minute of this experience.
I moved to California to attend the Fine Arts Master Program at CSULB.

Since then I have lived in Glendale, Bakersfield, San Pedro, and currently Long Beach. I have two chairs in my two-bedroom apartment because all the other space is dedicated to art making. I collect materials everywhere I go, always seeing the potential in discarded materials.

Please tell us about your art.
The largest body of work that I’m currently creating is the Sequin Safari work. I found a taxidermy Impala at an estate sale about 6 years ago. Its horns were cracked, most of its fur was gone and they were throwing it out. I took it out of the trash and hung it up in my house. I looked at that sad face every day, till one night I took it to the studio and began repairing it. I took the hide off, washed the fur, glued the horns together, and created a new “coat” for it to “wear”.

My mother and I used to make sequin ornaments. You would take a pin and put a sequin on it and pierce it to a Styrofoam sphere. This is what I began doing to the once trashed Impala. I would use thousands of pins; each one I would string a bead and sequin on and then piece the foam armature from the Impala.

I continue to seek out taxidermy that is damaged and needs a substantial amount of repair, so instead of the form being trashed I can re-purpose the animal, that already has had a tragic life experience. In a way it is the animals afterlife or a redemption for the animal. I look for all types of discarded materials that I can rework to create a more elaborate, elevated display of it. I want the viewer to see the work as a whole and upon further exploration you discover and identify the materials in front of you. I want the viewer to enjoy looking at art, to feel compassion and joy in their heart, while realizing the beauty in the materials that we may at times take for granite or discard.

There are a lot of things at play in the work. I play on historical ritual practice and adornments, I balance a masculine and feminine aesthetic, I incorporate simple craft techniques to make fine art objects. It truly is up to the viewer to experience and bring their own perspective and life experience to the sculptures

Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national or international events and issues affect your art?
It depends on how each artist views themselves and what inspiration is driving them. Art has been created through endless wars, unbelievable tragedies, dictators and so on. We have more access and opportunity to promote whatever you choose your voice to be. All events affect me emotionally, and spiritually; the work at times may reflect this.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
The best option to see my work is follow me on Instagram where I post shows that I am in. I show at Start Up Art Fair in Los Angeles (Jan) and San Francisco (April) every year. You can purchase work through contacting me on my web site, or direct message me if you want to stop in for a studio visit.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
John Koller

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