This week we had the pleasure to interview artist Margaret Zox Brown who created a series of “lockdown” paintings through a personal journey of self-isolation.
Where are you from? Please introduce yourself.
My name is Margaret Zox Brown. I was born and bred in Manhattan and have lived here for basically my entire life.
When did you start painting? What kind of art do you paint?
I started painting in my late 20s. It felt like an exciting leap for me since I had been drawing for my whole life. Painting was a new and challenging medium, and I was introduced to color. I immediately was taken with color and it became (and still is) a focus within my art. I would say that my art is Representational Expressionism.
What medium do you use for your paintings?
Almost all of my paintings are oil on canvas. I have also added oil paint to Conté drawings on paper, creating mixed media pieces. Oil paint and oil painting mediums are what I love most.
How did the lockdown impact your creation and what did it mean for you going forward?
Before Covid, I was heavily immersed in painting a series of New York Characters. Because I could no longer find my subjects nor go to my Garment District studio to paint, I had to rethink everything. After doing a few colored pencil drawings and watercolors at the dining room table, I knew I just had to find a way to paint in oil again to express all that I was feeling during this unique time. I made a temporary, makeshift studio out of the studio apartment above where I live. Eventually that apartment will be joined with our living space but during the lockdown it would be sitting empty. So I made it into my studio. I started painting oil paintings that reflected, once again, my world and the emotions I felt around what I chose to highlight with my art. I also changed from titling each piece to now during this Lockdown series, dating the paintings in order to chronicle how I was feeling throughout this time. I have learned a lot about myself and my intention with my art through this Lockdown series. I realize that I have always been painting the magnificence of the quotidian and connecting with the world by sharing it. And while my world is of course smaller, it is actually so much larger because we all are going through the same thing and we all are experiencing a world of life at home. I am so happy finding beauty within the moment. I have no idea where I will be emotionally in the future, but for now, even as the world starts to open up, I can see continuing to paint what I have been painting.
Most artists’ work has a purpose or a message. What is the message of your art? What emotions and feelings do you want to convey visually in each painting?
My intention with my art is to find the true beauty in the quotidian and to share that with the world. Life most definitely has ups and downs, but I prefer to express the beauty, both aesthetically and emotionally, that I see and I know we all can share.
Tell us about the favorite work of art you created and why it is.
I have many favorite pieces because I have been painting for a very long time and have gone through many different series. Also, I always love where I am in the present the most. So to answer your question, for now I would say my favorite painting is, “April 28th – May 17th, 2020.” This is a painting that is part of my Lockdown series. It is a painting of my husband and dog, snuggling together on the couch. I feel that this painting encompasses so much emotionally and uses so many artistic elements to achieve this that it is pleasing on so many levels. It reveals a sense of love and comfort and life and warmth. All these wonderful feelings of home are brought about through: subject, perspective, color, line and form, light, paint application, layout and design.
Do you have any future projects that you would like to share with us?
I am continuing with this series and continually receiving press about it.
Whose art work do you admire? Whose artwork has impacted you? What direction do you see for the world of art?
I admire many artists for varying reasons: Gauguin for his color, Matisse for his flat picture plane, Alice Neel for her figures, Morandi for his capturing of a moment of pause, and many contemporary artists whose work and careers I follow and applaud. I see the art world definitely continuing to thrive. Everyone needs art more than ever now. It is not only a documentation of the times we are living in but it also provides culture and optimism and a sense of community. And I believe that even if viewing or experiencing art might not be in the way we all have known, the internet is the perfect place to share and discover and enjoy art.