Elizabeth McGrath Art: An Interview with Liz McGrath
THE MUSE, MOTHERHOOD, A MID-LIFE CRISIS
AND MANAGING THE
OSCILLATING FORCES BETWEEN THEM.
When I first contacted Liz McGrath approximately a year ago, I had made plans to write a feature on her and her artwork. She was one of the artists I first discovered whose works fascinated me when I was just starting the blog. Marvelously detailed and morbidly beautiful dioramas espousing the connections between nature and the contemporary world peaked my interest. There is just something enticing about Liz McGrath's creations - they draw me right in. Her work makes me want to analyze their intricacies thoroughly, reach farther into understanding my own connections with them, and probe deeper into the meanings they convey. When I observe her artwork, I am not just a passive observer - call it a process of self-realization if you will. Naturally, I became intrigued and wanted to learn more about this individual whose exceptionally unique works captivate, not just me, but thousands of fans worldwide.
After our initial contact, we lost touch. Becoming mothers, pursuing our careers, and tending to our day to day responsibilities made it difficult for us to continue to communicate. It was only in the last few months when we reconnected again that I was finally able to learn more about this delightfully spirited individual and engaging artist.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by everything around me! Browsing the internet always turns up a few inspiring images. Sometimes it is music or poetry or a walk around the block. I'm inspired by people and fashion and animals!! Oh, it would be hard to pinpoint everything I'm inspired by!!! But as much as I can be inspired I can also be uninspired by people who are negative or critical - so if I have new ideas and such, I am careful who I share them with till they have enough wings to take flight!
How and when did you first get started creating sculptures and dioramas?
I have always been interested in dioramas. I remember my aunt would bring my sister and I sugar eggs with elaborate east dioramas inside of them! My mom is from Singapore and they used to have an exhibit in the tiger balm gardens that features the steps one took to get to their final resting place after they die - it was through a faux cave and had several dioramas cut in the walls of the cave that featured miniatures of people being boiled alive by demons or climbing trees made from swords with baskets below them to catch the falling limbs!! It really stuck with me but it wasn't till I worked for fred stuhr animation that I had actually started to make my first dioramas using techniques I learned working in animated music videos.
...art has no time limits. It's not a contest. It's not based on how you look or how much money or skill you have. It's for you and if others enjoy it, all the better.
Can you remember the first artwork you created? What makes it memorable?
I don't really remember! But there was one time my sister and I used that old computer paper that had the holes on both sides my dad brought home for us to draw on and using it we turned our closet into a giant room that would time travel out stuffed animals!
What is the hardest part about creating your artwork?
For me now it's balancing being a mom and finding time to do the artwork. Shifting from mom mode to artist mode hasn't been easy for me - when I'm in one I don't want to go back to the other - I still haven't found the balance.
Are you working on anything new at the moment?
Right now I'm still just trying to figure out what I'm doing!! I guess I hit a mid life crisis so to speak but I do have a show on the horizon with Cotey Helford. The dates aren't set but I imagine in the next year and a half.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I've been to less than 10 movies in a movie theater.
Do you admire any artists?
I admire everyone who makes art in a professional and personal level - especially those who strive to make art their profession. It's not easy, it is an up and down ride but I feel that there is a difference between an artist brain and it can be a wonderful thing but it can drive you crazy!!
Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?
I like to come in with a theme first then work from there - at the library or online.
How has your practice changed over time? (or has it?)
Right now I'm having a lot of trouble trying to figure that out!! My old system which was to work till the muse left me which could be days and nights to no end with no sleep is no longer possible - so trying to work in a schedule has been really challenging.
Favourite or most inspirational place where you live?
I live Downtown. It's been a big source of inspiration for me.
What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
That art has no time limits. It's not a contest. It's not based on how you look or how much money or skill you have. It's for you and if others enjoy it, all the better.
How do you balance your work/family life?
I'll let you know when I figure that one out!!!
Most difficult part about being an artist?
Connecting with other people who think more logically so to speak!!!
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