B20: Wiregrass Biennial is a juried exhibition that encourages innovative and progressive work and showcases the South’s most talented contemporary artists, illustrating the region’s rich cultural heritage. Selected work utilizes a variety of art forms and media, including paintings, sculptures, mixed media, new media, and installation art. Three jurors chose from a field of over 130 entries for this year’s exhibition — the first virtual exhibition ever for WMA — featuring 39 artists from 11 states.
We’ll be sharing a series of interviews with B20 artists during the run of the exhibition, and our twelfth is from Savannah, Georgia-based artist, Maggie Evans.
Where do you find inspiration for your artistic practice?
I’m very intrigued with human behavior and interested in anything that delves into different aspects of human psychology including our collective psyche, crowd/mob mentalities, or individual ways of processing. I love traveling and the exhilaration of navigating a completely foreign culture. I find that language and cultural barriers allow me to detach from my own cultural beliefs and observe humans on a broad, universal level. I am always surprised and fascinated to discover intrinsic behaviors that remain consistent from culture to culture, regardless of geographic and social boundaries.
I can’t think of any specific non-Western visual artists who have influenced these concepts in my work but the work of contemporary Chinese writer Ma Jian often deals with this tension and I would certainly cite his work as conceptually influential. Additionally, my experience living in China for two years initially inspired my contemplations on this tension. Observing the influence of western culture layered over years of communist practices on a daily basis was incredibly fascinating.
Living in the South is culturally very different from where I grew up in Utah. Even after living here for over 15 years, I still find myself experiencing and observing ways of thinking and approaching the world that are culturally very different from the western United States. Although comparatively more subtle, the experience is surprisingly similar to what I felt in China in that it encourages me to examine and question culturally-based assumptions and universal similarities.
Image in header: Forgotten Conversations, 2009, Pastel on paper, 35” x 60”