Featured Artist: EMILY MADDIGAN
When referring to “art” Emily speaks about “a world of cultural belief systems, symbolism and craft.” Her mother and grandmother nurtured her by having crafts material around, instilling in her the values of art-making. “If I was in trouble,” she tells VoyageLA in an interview, “I would get grounded, and the only thing I was allowed to do was stay at home and make art.” It is interesting how grounding and making art go together. Emily creates a myriad of sculptures, stitching parts and pieces of mammals and furry animals, she explains, “the process is different for each one.”
Using damaged taxidermy and sculpting from foam, Emily creates half-animal, half-human figures among a scope of characters. The bottom half being human legs and the top, the head of a bull, goat or deer. Embellished with gold and silver beads, sequined fabrics and lace, the figures make a statement on high fashion through their attire and pose. Feminine and masculine properties can be detected from their appearance. In fact, some pieces can be coupled or grouped together. The life-size dimension of the sculptures and their hand-made nature gives them a theatrical feel and brings them to life. “It really is an intuitive act of play that brings things together. It relies on whatever is captivating me at that time,” says Emily. Thousands of beads, sequins, lace fabric, fur, and repurposed material make up the sculptures.
A body of work connecting us with ancient mythology, from the Roman, Greek, Egyptian and beyond, since fantastical creatures have been a part of our inherited lineage of folklore and creative expression since the beginning of civilization; in her practice, Emily researches a variety of cultural ceremonies, rituals and practices. “It is in the variety of belief systems and practices that I look up to,” she says. Travelling to Mexico and Africa, Emily, “was heavily influenced by the way other cultures reuse and repurpose materials.” Her focus on damaged taxidermy and sculpting animals adds value to animal life and presence, and resurfaces the conversation around preserving animals and the role animals play in the world and in our lives.
Emily grew up in the suburbs of North East Metro Detroit. She and her mother used to make sequin ornaments together. They would take a pin and put a sequin on it and pierce it to a Styrofoam sphere, a process she implemented onto damaged taxidermy and evolved through her practice into an intricate body of work. The largest she is currently creating is the Sequin Safari.
To see more of Emily’s work, visit her website: www.sweetieboosh.com and follow her instagram page @sweetiebooshin