Today’s we take a sneak peek into Artist Studio Organizing with Leigh Magar of Madame Magar. We met a couple years ago at a Sea Island Indigo workshop we both attended. Leigh has been well know in Charleston and beyond as an incredible milliner but in more recent years she has turned away from that form of expression and towards making garments and fiber/collections of art and wearables using naturally dyed fabrics. She just recently completed a installation in Columbia, SC and launched her new website. I was thrilled to visit her home studio and am happy to share this sneak peek into Leigh’s studio. These photo’s are not styled so this is typical of what his working studio looks like on an average day. This week I launch a slightly new format including some new questions. I hope you like them!
Artist Studio Organizing with Leigh Magar Part I
HKPS::Introduce yourself by sharing some or all of the following:
When did you realized were an artist?
MM::I can’t recall, maybe when I started wearing men’s shoes…
What materials you work with?
Is making art your primary source of income? Do you have a partner who helps to support you?
MM::Yes, the Madame Magar label: ( small -batch collections, workshops,art exhibits, makeshift studio/shops) is my source of income
How much time do you spend in your studio weekly/daily?
HKPS::Where do you make your art, how big is your studio and how long have you been in this space?
MM::my home/studio/dye shed about 500 sq.ft plus dye garden, for just over 2 yrs
HKPS::When you began working in this space did you plan any systems for the overall set up or did you let things evolve organically? How did past studio spaces or systems influence this space?
MM::it all evolved organically, my new studio was so different than my past studio so it did not influence the new space; a new vision, a new label , a new studio, liberating!
HKPS::Do you use personal objects & memorabilia in your art? Do you collect memento’s, found objects or other “stuff” that keep in your studio? Collections of ephemera? Anything that evokes your childhood or playful nature=sense of humor (ironic, kitschy)?
MM::I’ve always been a pack rat & attracted to old stuff; since my high school thrift store days; finding items such as old quilts that are such inspirational gems to the Madame Magar vision. I love foraging & started when I first moved to Charleston; downtown on Sunday trash put out days, finding unwanted gems; “ones mans trash is another mans treasures!” A few years ago when I had the hat shop downtown I would find Bobby pins on the sidewalks on my daily walks to & fro the shop & collected them to create my sculptural booby pin Tiara project; tiaras/crowns made out of found Bobby pins & other sidewalk found objects. It’s incredible what you can find if you just open your eyes!
Then when I first moved to the country I was very depressed because I missed my daily downtown walks & missed finding objects but then I realized there were so many more vital resources and inspiration within nature. That is when I stumbled upon wild indigo!!! & other dye plants that I use for my small batch collections & art.
HKPS::Do these collections ever overwhelm you and if so how do you decide when to edit them?
MM::Yes; they always overwhelm me because they come from passion!
I’m not a good editor; I’m searching for one…perhaps that’s a flaw or a virtue?
HKPS:: Do you have a muse, mascot or area that you dedicate as an altar? OR-do you have any rituals, superstitions or routines you practice regularly in your studio?
MM::Lots of creative muses, that’s how I started sewing the Silhouettes; stitched out of indigo dyed scrap fabric. Quilt like portraits of woman who inspire me. The first one was the High Priestess of Soul; Nina Simone.
In the studio I always create altars, a sacred area that holds some of my favorite relics, charms; celebrating the beauty, positivity and goodness of life. I’m very superstitious and very spiritual, but not religious.
HKPS::How much thought do you give to your artistic body of work in terms of historic value and the overall legacy you will leave behind?
MM::History is interwoven in my work because it is who I am; where I’m rooted; heart & soul
HKPS::How do you store/archive your work or records?
MM::I keep journals, sketch books for each collection
Thank you Leigh for for sharing a bit of your creative process and your beautiful studio space! Next week I’ll have more from her about organizing tips, systems and advice. Check out Part II of the interview and then go see Leigh’s work on her new Madame Magar website.
*The idea for the Inside the Artist Studio series began while attending an art retreat where I curiously observed the differences in the creative cycle of order and chaos and what that looks like for different individuals. I’m very interested in sharing how organizing affects the artist’s creative process. Some systems and order are vital to our creative PLAY and learning to find a balance that works to enhance your creativity is what I hope to share with you through these interviews.
Is there a particular artist whose ‘Tool kit’ you would like to see featured? Leave a comment below and let me know!