Maggie West is known for prismatic work that innovatively brings her vibrant photography practice into large scale, public art, new media installations, and elevated NFTs. Although intimate and organic in subject—kissing couples, evocative portraits, fractal gemstones, blooming flowers, greening stalks—her work shines in books and on gallery walls, as well as in monumental murals, digital video, and generative light-backed platforms and installations. From the Pop goddess overlooking the new Netflix plaza, to screens above the city streets—and this year, the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival concourse’s first ever photo installation—West has a gift for translating her love for the power of color into the allure of experiential images.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
MAGGIE WEST: I have been making art since I was old enough to pick up a pencil. As a child, I frequently drove my parents crazy by painting on walls or other surfaces I wasn’t supposed to. In high school and college, I was really into drawing and painting and had a regular comic strip in the local paper. After college, I began to get into photography. In 2008, I moved from Asheville, NC to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the arts. Since then, I’ve had almost every type of photography job; photo retoucher, club photographer, product photography, etc. It’s only been in the last 5 years that I have been able to solely focus on my artwork full time.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
My work is about capturing genuine expressions in artificial environments. I use light and color as a means of communicating a specific tone and feeling. Through my use of intricate lighting and bold color choices, I strive to create work that is visually compelling and gives the viewer a new perspective on the subject matter. I believe in the importance of public art and am motivated to make my work available outside of traditional gallery spaces. I hope my use of color captivates the viewer and inspires them to seek out other contemporary artforms.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
I really love gardening and plants, so maybe a flower farmer or florist. Although, floristry is an artform so I don’t know if this answer counts. Haha.
When was your first show?
In 2016, I had my first art show, STAND: a Benefit for Planned Parenthood at Leiminspace in Chinatown. To promote the show, I photographed a number of Los Angeles models, musicians and actors and showcased the portraits at the fundraising event. While the portraits served as a useful tool for artists/influencers to promote the event, the actual donations to Planned Parenthood came from the sale of prints of my other work, located on the bottom floor of the show.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show or project?
This year, I have worked with the arts program at Coachella to create one of the world’s largest three-dimensional color photography installations. This is the first time the festival has featured a photo exhibit and I am extremely excited to showcase the work. The piece will be revealed when the festival opens on April 14th.
Website and social media, please!
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