Margaret McGee




New Work: It Seemed Like an Awfully Nice Place



Other Work

Artist Statement

I am a figurative wood carver, and my sculpture is narrative, often taking the form of staged vignettes. Most of my work is small in scale, but the diminutive painted figures (which range from 4" to 11" in height) are often used to fill larger spaces or dioramas, which feature a tableau of recognizable, yet ambiguous, characters. While the figures are generally placed in static poses and feature neutral expressions, the strange and piquant painting style suggests a complex and layered identity.

I am interested in creating portraiture that oscillates between the specific and the universal. Each of my figures is based on a photograph, many of which are from family archives documenting great uncles and distant relatives I have never met. I am drawn to the idea that an image of someone (known or unknown) both perfectly captures their gesture and expression at that moment AND inevitably fails to communicate the variation, depth, and essence of their identities. My work reflects this interest by offering groupings of figures that inspire a viewer to imagine relationships and complex inner lives only suggested by their appearance.

My newest work has begun exploiting the solemnity of architectural elements typically used to display religious sculpture, especially wall niches, shrines, and reliquaries. By placing my figures in these contrived spaces, I can suggest a hidden significance that contrasts with the relative 'plainness' of their appearance. As I child I was enamored with the lives if the saints, especially the modern saints whose lives seemed almost ordinary. This new body of work seeks to celebrate a more mundane sainthood characterized by earnestness and industry.