Margot McMahon's Statement of Purpose

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Statement of Purpose 

Margot McMahon with Ecosystem No. 1Margot McMahon’s sculptures, drawings, and videos interpret her environmental vision of the interdependence of life forms in nature. Margot fuses human, plant and animal forms into unique sculptural statements that are inspired by familiar natural forms reinvented into a unique visual vocabulary. Each sculpture varies in its focus emphasizing the importance of life and nature. Her sculpture “Ecosystem No. 1” invites the viewer to participate in sustaining this small ecosystem by contributing water to the blue vessel. Ecosystem No. 1The sun powers a solar pump that lifts the water to the weather vane, or dancers, on top that spin to distribute the water on to a sedum or rooftop garden.The sedum is brought to eye level to experience the plant that absorbs and retains rainwater while insulating rooftops. If people, the sun and wind contribute, the garden will thrive.

Margot exhibits her work in museums and galleries, collaborates with others for commissioned work and creates portrait exhibitions to congratulate and encourage lives well led. The gallery and museum exhibitions show her new work that expresses recent art explorations Margot has embarked upon.Egan Her sculptures have been collected throughout the United States, Japan, England and France and the Smithsonian’s Portrait Gallery, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicago History Museum, Yale University, DePaul University, St. Patrick’s Church, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Soka Gakkai International. She sees the work as a result of an exploration of people within nature. Margot’s hope is that the art remains as a defined statement of where she has been, an object of what she has learned for others to create their own interpretations. Her portraits of unsung heroes, exemplified by “Just Plain Hardworking”, interprets ten everyday workers; an organizer, steel mill worker or homemaker as foundational elements of society. The Chicago History Museum and WTTW-Channel 11 brought “Just Plain Hardworking” to viewers to show how one generation helped create a multicultural fabric that makes up Chicago. “Just Plain Hardworking” is permanently exhibited in the John Egan Urban Center of DePaul University Campus Center on State and Jackson.

Margot McMahon has worked with village boards, park districts, Catholic, Presbyterian and Buddhist centers, corporations and office buildings to sculpt images that she hopes will enlighten and provoke thought in the everyday life of the viewer. Celtic Cross Her commissioned art is the result of meeting and learning the ideas of a community, then interpreting those ideas into sculptures. The focus of the symbol embellishes the blended forms of life that Margot carries throughout her body of work while the community she works with adds facets to her art. For several years Margot explored her Irish Catholic heritage through sculpting symbols for St. Patrick’s Church founded in 1949. A celtic wooden cross, a mural with words from St. Patrick’s Breastplate, a waterfall baptismal font for infants and adults, Stations of the Cross, a Holy Family with Jesus as a teenager and a loaf shaped rosewood tabernacle held by five foot high hands called “Offering”, stained and blown glass were the result of five years of Celtic Catholicism explored, learned and interpreted.

To respond to questions and explain processes and concepts, Margot has produced videos. These documentaries are further conversations with viewers to explain and reach a common understanding of how and why her objects are created. Cinema Guild in New York City distributes her videos. You can see a video of the Chicago Tree Project on Vimeo.

Margot is a Board Member of Chicago Sculpture International and a Board Member of Yale Women and the Association of Yale Alumni.

Currently Margot is working with The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame to portray 6 inaugural inductees.


The figure and organic form interpreted in geometric rhythms are what Margot McMahon models in clay and casts in metal and concrete, welds in steel or carves in stone. Her work is a rhythm of lights and shadows playing over textured surfaces of forms which refer to the every person as the hero. She has been called the Studs Terkel of the Sculpting world for her humanistic interpretations. Captured in seated poses or walking stances, her forms speak to us of both the endurance and the fragile nature of the human spirit. A lifelong environmentalist, McMahon views the human form as one with nature and creates symbols of this concept. Public sculpture commissions and museum and gallery exhibitions have been the core of Margot's work as an artist. She has exhibited her drawings and sculptures in Chicago, New York, Washington D.C, Sante Fe, Cincinnati and Connecticut. The Smithsonian, The Museum of Contemporary Art, The Chicago Historical Society, the Chicago Horticultural Society and Botanic Gardens, and Yale University have her sculptures in their collections. Besides Chicago area collections her sculptures and drawings are included in private collections in New York, Florida, London, Paris, New York and Tokyo. When working on a public commission, Margot enjoys the process of 1) responding to a community; 2) researching the concepts of the sculpture; 3) intuitively interpreting the site; and 4) creating an informed and intuitive humanistic and expressive interpretation of the concept. Margot McMahon has taught sculpting and drawing at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, DePaul University, Yale University's Norfolk Summer School and assistant taught at Yale University while earning her MFA. She has been a board member of the Oak Park Area Arts Council and a founding commissioner on the Village of Oak Park Public Art Advisory Commission and contributes on a committee of the Ragdale Foundation.

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