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Meet Grace Malvena Bagley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Grace Malvena Bagley.

Grace Malvena, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
For as many changes as I have gone through with my art, the one constant has been that I am usually making at least something.. Growing up in a small town in Washington I made collages and drawings and learned how to sew and make clothes. Eventually, all of these melded into photography in high school, which led to a BFA in photography and arts management.

When I graduated college in Chicago, I felt burnt out on photography and began gravitating towards other mediums. First I picked up embroidery and moved to Portland. Once there I started making clothes again, then began weaving, which is still my main form of creating. Now I’ve moved on from Portland and have been making a home for myself in LA, with the help of the incredible arts community here. I made a couple of friends and started doing Art fairs and pop-ups. Currently, I’m working on creating enough pieces for a show of my own, and am looking for galleries that mesh with my style of work.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I’ve had a few of the average struggles – My parents didn’t want me to go to art school, and once there it took a bit of trial and error before I found the amazing people that are my friends today. But beyond that, I think my biggest struggles, as with lots of other artists, have been with myself. Making work is such a vulnerable thing to do, and can really ignite the self-doubt, at least for me. I go through whole phases of convincing myself that what I make isn’t actually art, and that I’m just fooling myself.

I can easily make myself believe that I really don’t know what I’m doing, or that it’s not good at all, or that it’s pointless to even try. And unfortunately, these moments are often as common as they are unpleasant. That being said I think it’s a good struggle to have. To have to move beyond your own self-doubt every day is such a good lesson, and can toughen you up for the critics that live outside your head. I wonder about my own ability everyday, but take it as a win every time I am able to move past it and get to doing what I want to do. Once I start working, the doubt fades away immediately.

We’d love to hear more about your art.
My business is myself and my work. While my original intention in college was to go the fine art photography route in terms of my business, I’ve slowly begun leaning more towards the one-of-a-kind pieces I make and sell. I’ve found that my made pieces are more tactile, involved, and somehow more accessible than photographs.

While I love every aspect of my work, my pride and joy are the custom pieces I get to create for clients! I sell my own weavings and embroidery and usually sell them in my own designs and colors – created by me, for myself. The absolute best moments are when I get a commission and get to translate my style with someone else in mind. One of my favorite parts about working on commissions is thinking about how often the client will view it in their space, and how that may change their perception of the piece over time. I think living with a piece of art creates a sort of ongoing relationship with it, and that is what I hope my work does.

What were you like growing up?
I grew up as the youngest of three sisters, on an island in Washington. I was always playing outside, going swimming, and generally running around barefoot. I had tons of energy, so much so that my parents put me into gymnastics, which I continued competitively from the ages of 4-18. I loved gymnastics, going swimming, and annoying my older sisters.

In terms of my personality, I was a happy kid, extremely talkative, and definitely creative. I have early memories of making fairy homes in my parent’s garden and sending little homemade boats down the stream in the woods near my house. As I got older, I only became more interested in various areas of the arts, creating sets in my room and photographing myself as different characters, or making 2′ x 3′ collages out of magazines like Seventeen and Elle.

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Image Credit:

Portrait photo credit: Spencer Bagley

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