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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

Margaret Keelan

Margaret Keelan

''I remember how I felt when during my last year of graduate school, after messing about with organic shapes, and surrealistic chickens, I started to work with the human form. I was delighted and fascinated. Delighted, because I felt I had discovered my voice; a "canvas" upon which I could draw my pictures; and fascinated, because I found the human figure, with its combination of form and volume to be beautiful and complex. For twenty-four years I have used the female form as my main source of inspiration, and clay, because of it’s endless possibilities in construction and surfaces, as my primary media.

My sculptures have always been self-referential; expressing concerns and experiences I live out in myself and observe in others around me. My earlier works pondered surface disguises; they were sections of bodies, mainly the torso, with truncated limbs, often no arms. I would describe them as incomplete, as was I. The spirit was confined to what remained of the body, hidden behind the still pose and the distant gaze. Its presence was hinted at through the use of color and surface texture.

"Woman with Alter Ego" marks a time during which I slip cast a number of different forms, such as other small heads, saucers, twigs, etc, then attached them to a larger piece, also slip cast. This combination of symbols would then form a narrative revealing my concern with submerged emotions, spiritual growth, and our "tribal" connections,

Other themes that have concerned me owing no doubt to getting older, have been the manner in which friends and loved ones, dead, alive, local, far away inhabit our head and make themselves quite at home; how present becomes past; future becomes present. These issues were particularly explored in the two "Circle of Life" sculptures with the floating skulls and the texturing and coloring of clay to indicate ancient weathered wood. The image of a still pool of water, (actually, plastic resin) within a number of the heads, most evident in the pieces "Inside Out", and "Head Under Water", points to my seemingly endless interest with the shape and substance of our interior selves.

Much of my most recent work has the appearance of weathered wooden dolls. The clay has been textured and stained, the faces press molded, the hair, untidy and in complete disarray, taken from beloved, abused and abandoned dolls. As I make these sculptures my mind lingers on images of Greek classical figures, those ones that have become incomplete, but beautiful, or, African tribal wood sculpture and their practical purposes of honoring ancestors, and connecting with the spirit world.

In l984 Joanne Dickson wrote this observation of my sculpture, which still holds true: "The work is rich with paradox. There is at once a feeling that these were treasured possessions, perhaps even ritual objects, at the same time they appear to have been created carelessly and discarded. The figures endure despite their apparent fragility.''

Area of Emphasis: Ceramic Sculpture

1970 Advanced B.A., University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada
Area of Emphasis: Fine Arts


2009 Purchase Award, NCECA 2009 National Biennial Exhibition
1998 Honorable Mention, Ceramic Viewpoint ’98, Hyde Gallery, El Cajon, CA
1997 Merit Award, Feats of Clay, Lincoln, CA
1996 Merchandise Award, Ceramics in Northern California, Walnut Creek, CA
1988 Gold Medal, "Going for Gold" (A National Exhibition), Calgary, Canada
1978 Canada Council Short Term Grant
1975 Canada Council Arts Grant
1974 Saskatchewan Arts Board Grant

1974 Canada Council Arts Grant
1973 Saskatchewan Arts Board Grant

1 comment:

Johnnie Was said...

Amazing and original.


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