artist interview: margeaux walter (part 1) analyzing everyday life through her lens

Margeaux Walter already has an extensive resume that includes a number of solo and group shows, honors, awards and artist residencies.  She is currently an MFA student at Hunter College in New York City.


Current gallery exhibit: Pentimenti Gallery in Philadelphia (Now until May 24th)

Margeaux Walter: "Sweet Dreams," Photographic Lenticular, 40 x 40 inches from "False Awakening" series
Margeaux Walter: “Sweet Dreams,” Photographic Lenticular, 40 x 40 inches from “False Awakening” series

Interview by Kimberly Cecchini/Images by Margeaux Walter

Tonight at Dawn: What attracted you to art?  Why photography and how did you evolve to the use of the lenticular?

Margeaux Walter: I started working with photography in high school, and fell in love with the medium.  As an introvert I found that I could express myself through images and manipulate them in a way to show my view of the world around me.  I discovered lenticulars while doing my thesis at NYU.  I was making images about technology and was looking for a way to integrate my concepts into the medium itself.  Working as a graphic designer on the side I came across promotional lenticulars postcards, and then taught myself how to make them.  Lenticulars allows me to show a progression of time, but they are special because they force the viewer to move in order to see the progression.  It is a medium that is used mostly in postcards, advertising and movie posters, and these uses also fit into a lot of the topics I’m exploring.

Tonight at Dawn: What are your goals as an artist in terms of both your messages and your trajectory of your career?  What has been you have felt has been your greatest achievement so far?

Margeaux Walter:  My goal is to engage people in conversations about everyday life, human behavior and communication.  It’s hard to say what my greatest achievement has been – I feel I am most successful when I’m able to make a viewer laugh, gasp, smile, or have an emotional response.

Margeaux Walter: Third Wheel, 3-D Photographic Lenticular, 30 x 40 inches from the TMI series
Margeaux Walter: Third Wheel, 3-D Photographic Lenticular, 30 x 40 inches from the TMI series

Tonight at Dawn: Perhaps it is a simplistic parallel because you often use yourself as a main subject in your work, but your work makes me recall artists such as Cindy Sherman and Martha Rosler.  Who/what do you think has been the greatest influence on your works?

Margeaux Walter:  My greatest influences have been filmmakers, mainly Jacques Tati, Stanley Kubrick and Charlie Chaplin because of the way they portray current issues and everyday life through a fantastical and sometimes even humorous lens.

I use myself as a model in a lot of my work, and so it is natural to think of Cindy Sherman as a reference.  But I don’t feel I have too much more in common with her – I barely consider my work self-portraiture.  Cindy Sherman creates a social and class critique by inventing characters and individual personalities that personify these issues.  I’m more interested in the multiplicity of identity than creating characters, and how technology and commerce are altering personal identity.  I am exploring how we are changing as a culture due to modern technology, and how human behavior is being altered as a whole.  In my work, my characters are not individual personalities, but rather one of my own fragmented identities as defined by the stereotype.  Martha Rosler definitely has a connection in terms of her use of advertising.  While she alters existing ads, I use the visual cues of advertising – staged environments, studio lighting, and saturated imagery.  I like to think of my work as functioning like advertisements for the psychological effects of modern life.

Tonight at Dawn: Why do you tend to use yourself as a subject; particularly in pieces in which you play multiple roles?

Margeaux Walter: I use myself as an actor in many of my images because often the imagery emerges from my process of performing it.  It is important for me to experience the physical and emotional environment that I am building.  This process of acting, and re-enacting allows me to dwell in the space between perception and reality.  Playing multiple roles investigates the multiplicity of identity and the different aspects of my own identity that may or may not overlap with these stereotypes or figures I am performing.  By acting out my own identities, as well as those around me, I blur the identities of the characters I portray, while also describing the dissolution of the self in postmodern times.

Tonight at Dawn: Although many of your projects often include similar basic elements such as highly constructed scenes and self-portraiture, you manage to create a fresh concept in each new endeavor.  Please describe your process for developing project ideas.

Margeaux Walter: I spend a lot of time watching people, and more often that not I get an idea in the middle of doing something else: on the subway, walking down the street, sleeping, or going to a social event. I always start with a sketch that stems from my idea, and then begin to build the scenario, background and props.  The rest of the image develops during the performance itself, when I have a better feel for the characters, emotions and energy.

Part two of the interview with Margeaux Walter will follow shortly.

Margeaux Walter.  From the series,今 Jīn (created during her artist's residency in Beijing)
Margeaux Walter. From the series,今 Jīn (created during her artist’s residency in Beijing)


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