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Margaret Vergara


2. Installation view, Ken Lum_ Death and Furniture, Art Gallery of Ontario. Artworks © Ken

"Van Gogh Irises" by Margaret Vergara

Margaret Vergara

sM |  What is the one social issue that your art speaks to the most? 

MV ──
Mental health. I’m very open when talking about my struggles with mental illness and how it shows up quite often in the themes of my work. My work is centered around the theme of exploring the relationship and interaction of joy and pain in the same space. I started painting when I was 8 years old, and while it started as a fun, creative outlet, it eventually became a way for me to transmute my negative emotions into something pleasant and calming. Now my most effective and powerful paintings are the ones where I felt an overwhelming emotion and transformed it into an abstracted landscape.

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sM | What have you accomplished in your residency? 

MV ──
I’ve done quite a bit of live painting and digital collage-making. Most of my current work is abstract. I tend to create pieces based on the emotional state I’m in, so it’s been a challenge trying to come up with new ideas of what to paint after I’ve exhausted my emotions. I’ve really enjoyed revisiting painting more traditional landscapes, but still finding ways to make it feel like it’s still in-line with my voice as an artist. When I collage, it’s a whole different process where I center play and experimentation. I’ve had a lot of fun creating collages using van Gogh’s work, and I discovered so many pieces I had never seen before during my research and collection phase.

sM | What inspiration do you get from artists around you? 

MV ──
I’m very lucky to be a part of Public Functionary’s incubator program, Studio 400, so in my studio practice I’m surrounded by eight other incredible emerging artists. Often I’ll peek in on my studiomates’ work and be inspired to try a new technique or they’ll lead a workshop where I’ll learn new forms of making I had never considered before. We also have conversation labs, so if I’m ever stuck and need ideas on how to move forward, I have folks I can turn to for advice or validation. We uplift each other while building community, and it’s great being around artists with new and exciting perspectives.

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