Maggie Ellis: Passionate, Intentional & Feminine
I accidently ghosted Maggie for over a year, I’m not good at much; but I am good at that. We finally find time to chat, after rescheduling and staggered replies. Maggie is another artist born out of COVID Lockdowns; her art reflects that of a young woman trying to navigate a world that feels like it’s falling apart. Maggie’s art speaks to the female psyche, while exploring all that is feminine in art, like; why are we always a muse to the male gaze?
Maggie tells me she’s had a busy day. One of her dreams is coming true: to have her first solo exhibition. Her busy day has consisted of preparing for that, the exhibition is taking place this week, on Sunday (11thJune). Titled, ‘Your World, My Art’, Maggie tells me her work focuses on the lived experience of being a woman, and how surreal it is to see her dream come to fruition.
Maggie is a 20-year-old woman, working and creating on Dharug Land, or The Hills District, in Sydney. Her art is inspired by that which fuels many an artist: imagination. Maggies tells me her curiosity and imagination is what kept her creating all her life, and led to her being an artist today.
Like many other self-taught artists, Maggie found herself using the COVID-19 lockdowns as an opportunity to create. She started creating acrylic paintings, and painting on cut up pieces of plywood, since she couldn’t leave the house to buy canvases:
‘I fell in love with it and found myself painting every single day. Since then, I’ve explored a range of mediums, including watercolour, sketching, clay, digital art, and ceramics. At the moment, I’ve been creating a lot of mixed media artworks, combining traditional art mediums with digital art to create something really unique. But I think acrylic painting will always be my favourite, since it reminds me of where I first started.’
Maggie describes her art as: passionate, intentional and feminine. She tells me her art is heavily influenced by her passion for feminism and women’s rights. Many of Maggie’s artworks are inspired by her own lived experiences as a woman, and often she finds inspiration from the stories of women around her. Maggie says she enjoys creating art, which represents the feminine experience and portrays women as the powerful, complex individuals they are and have always been.
‘A particular concept I often find myself reflecting on throughout my creative process is the contemporary image of the muse; a woman, sitting silently, as the male artist is inspired by her. This image is deeply ingrained in contemporary art culture, promoting man as the maker, woman as the inspiration, woman the vehicle of male fantasy, incapable of any kind of agency herself. This image of the muse denies female participation in artistic creation and silences female creativity. My art aims to reclaim this contemporary image of the muse and act as a representation of female capability and strength.’
‘I think every artist’s goal is to create something which makes people think. When I create I enjoy layering symbols and motifs throughout my artworks to challenge people to look deeper to find the true meaning. I want my art to encourage people to embark on a journey of self-reflection, to consider what femininity and womanhood means to them, and prompt people to delve deeper into their inner conscious, with the hopes they walk away from my art feeling challenged, empowered, and inspired.’
Maggie tells me today isn’t a one off: she’s always busy. Maggie works part time at a non-for-profit organisation as the social media coordinator, she tells me this allows her to express her creativity through graphic design and digital art. She’s the President of the Macquarie University Women’s Collective; a social group which advocates for women’s rights and promotes intersectionality. As if that wasn’t enough, Maggie is also currently in the third year of her degree; a Bachelor of Arts majoring in gender studies, minoring in social justice, anthropology, and education.
‘Even though I’m quite busy most days, I always try to find time to do something creative, whether it be working on a commission or doing a quick sketch. I find that I stay the most motivated when I prioritise consistency with my art.’
‘As much as I love keeping busy, it can sometimes mean I struggle to find the time or motivation to sit down for a few hours to paint. I think the most important thing for me as an artist is balance. I find that it can be really tricky to walk the fine line between associating art as a peaceful escape from reality and associating art as work. That’s why balance is so important to me – I don’t push myself to create when I’m not in the right mindset, and instead I let the inspiration to create come to me.’
Maggie tells me how art affects the world around us, and the impact it has on society:
‘I think that art is much deeper than just putting pen to paper or brush to canvas. Art can be seen everywhere, it’s so deeply ingrained in our everyday life, but it’s so often overlooked.
When most people think of where art is, their first thought is probably the paintings and sculptures we see in museums, but art can truly be seen everywhere; from fashion and advertisements, to architecture, landscapes, and so many more examples. From the simplest to the most complex things that surround us, there is always some element of art which is present, yet most people make the mistake of looking and not seeing.’