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Cultural Arts Alliance Artist Snapshot - Margaret Biggs

January 7, 2013 by SoWal Staff

The seas as well as the many gifts that come from the ocean world inspire Margaret’s paintings. Her work is both modern and realistic. It is imbued with her imagination, pushing the viewer to more closely observe the fascinating play of design that can be found in nature.

Margaret studied art at the University of Illinois at Chicago as well as The Evanston Art Center. Her full time practice of art was delayed however, by a long and exciting career in the fashion industry.

Though her extensive travel satisfied a curiosity of faraway places, she always returned to her roots in the Panhandle of Florida. During her childhood, Margaret spent her free time swimming, collecting seashells and walking for hours on the long, white beaches of Northwest Florida's pristine Gulf shores.

It wasn’t until 2009 that Margaret finally returned to her home on the Gulf Coast. After the oil spill in the summer of 2010, her artistic focus shifted to the coastal areas of the South. Having “dodged the BP bullet,” the beaches and waters of the area remain pristine. Contrary to the requests for art related to the devastating effects of the spill, Margaret has chosen to focus her work on the beauty that remains. Her desire is to raise awareness of the magnificent coastal areas that exist to this day in the Gulf South, and to foster hope and a passion for the preservation of our natural world.

Margaret has participated in numerous shows throughout the Chicago area and the Southeast Region of the United States.  Her work hangs in both public and private locations throughout the country.

Margaret took some time recently to answer the following questions about her work:

When did you first discover your creative talents?
My artistic talent was apparent at an early age.  I have always enjoyed the experience.  Drawing, painting, pottery, writing, were all creative endeavors I enjoyed in grade school and high school.

Do you have any influences or anyone you look up to when it comes to art/design?
There is Emily Carr of Canada whose depictions of Pacific NW fascinate me.  Georgia O’Keeffe’s landscapes and bones have influenced my work.  Thomas Hart Benton’s stylization of the landscape is an obvious source albeit subconsciously.  Renee Magritte’s brushwork and floating objects as well as his imagination have influenced me as well.  Kerry James Marshall, a contemporary American Master, has had a huge effect on my work, as I studied under him for several semesters in the early 90’s.  Ferdinand Hodler's stylization and playfulness in his landscapes is another.  There are many.  As someone of importance once said “All of art is undetected plagiarism.”  Other artists influence us all, though it is often subconsciously.

How do you describe your style?
My work is modern and realistic.  It is often highly stylized.  Often described as surrealistic and peaceful, I do strive to communicate the peace and calm one finds on the shore.
I begin with a photograph I have taken or one of hundreds of seashells I have collected since I was a girl.  I then put myself in a very still and calm state of mind and begin to paint.  About midway through, the photo is put away and my imagination takes over.  I want to paint the magic I see as well as the peace I find on the shore.

What jobs have you had other than being an artist?
I worked for years in the fashion industry in many large cities.  I was also a Realtor on Chicago’s Northshore.

Name something you love and why?
I love the long, white beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast, particularly those preserved by the State or National Park System.  Our water’s are warm and inviting.  The beaches are pristine.  In the middle of the summer on a weekday, I can relax for hours on the National Seashore and sometimes I do not see a soul!  This is heaven to me.

For more information about Margaret Biggs please visit her website at www.margaretbiggs.com.


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