Fame and Legacy in the Visual Arts

“I like things that are handmade and I like to see people’s hand in the world, anywhere in the world; it doesn’t matter to me where it is. And in my work, I do everything by hand. I don’t project or use anything mechanical, because even though I do spend a lot of time trying to perfect my line work and my hand, my hand will always be imperfect because it’s human. And I think it’s the part that’s off that’s interesting, that even if I’m doing really big letters and I spend a lot of time going over the line and over the line and trying to make it straight, I’ll never be able to make it straight. From a distance it might look straight, but when you get close up, you can always see the line waver. And I think that’s where the beauty is.” ~~Margaret Kilgallen

Margaret Kilgallen

The quote above says so much of what draws me to art. Being able to see something made by human hands, there is beauty just in that. Think of the way a mother cherishes that first drawing scrawled by her child’s hands. The granddaughter who carefully caresses the embroidered cloth sewn by her grandma. It touches us, sometimes more than a photograph ever can. Because it visually inhabits both time and space.

I discovered this quote after watching “Beautiful Losers”, a documentary that explores personal stories of this group of pop artists working outside the established art world in the 1990’s. I became particularly affected by the art and life of artist Margaret Kilgallen, who like me was inspired by folk art and its imperfections. In the film I was impressed by her calm, gentle nature as she masterfully graffitis the side of a train with one of her iconic women images. Her life was tragically cut short at age 33.  She died from breast cancer June 26 2001, shortly after the birth of her daughter. She left us a legacy in her work and words.  I am sorry she isn’t here to give us more of her art and share her perspective on the world. But I am happy that someone had the good sense to capture her on film, so I could get a glimpse of this courageous young woman.

Margaret Kilgallen

“I believe there need to be women visual in our every day landscape, working hard and doing their own thing, whether you like it or not, whether it’s acceptable or not…I especially hope to inspire young women because often I feel like so much emphasis is put on how beautiful you are, and how thin you are, and not a lot of emphasis is put on what you can do and how smart you are. I’d like to change that, change the emphasis of what’s important when looking at a woman.” ~MK

Typically, I don’t draw. So my lines aren’t as strong or sure as Kilgallens. Most of my work goes right from my head to the clay, then the addition of found objects. After seeing this documentary I was compelled to the immediacy of paper and pen. It’s the seed of something,  lines of an idea leading somewhere.

My drawing of an idea inspired by Kilgallen

As for my legacy and hope for fame. I’m still working on it.  I was recently voted by Current Magazine Readers as a runner-up to favorite artist in the Readers Choice 2012 http://www.ecurrent.com/June-2012/Currenst-Readers-Choice-2012/  The important lesson is to stay connected to other creative souls and everyone who may appreciate my work, because that’s where you live your life.

About Babs

I'm a narrative sculptor navigating her way through the ever-changing currents in what feels like an art ocean. Whether appreciating the calm rhythm of calls for art and exhibiting, or waiting to catch a big wave of inspiration to take me to the top. I just love being in the water. Formerly a pickle packer, theater major, crisis counselor and occupational therapist with a BA in Communications and a BS in Occupational Therapy, only to discover I've always been an artist. My work grows from a strong connection to people and a passion for discovering the beauty in ordinary things. I sculpt figuratively in clay, utilizing the female form and women’s themes. Frequently my inspiration is drawn from childhood memories and my own short poems. Like each of us as humans every work is uniquely influenced by the past and present and has a narrative.
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