Sep 19, 2011

PROFILE | Elizabeth McGrath | Alluring Sideshow

Blue Bunny, 2006, Mixed Media, 14"x18"x6"
With no intent on ever entering the art world and no art institutional or commercial training Elizabeth McGrath as made a definite memorizing mark with her beautifully strange faux taxidermy flare. She is a young Los Angeles based artist with a love and awareness for mortality, poetry, and horror stories.  Growing up her father was a mortician at the LA county morgue, as a rebellious teenager part of community service she was to complete hours with her father.
Having to place tags on the toes of dead bodies could very much have something to do with her fascination of the morbid. She was quoted in an interview with Whitehot Magazine about her experience doing service hours. 
By doing this, I figured out that a lot of women committed suicide in their mid-to-late thirties or early forties. They all had cats and left suicide notes. Most of the men were in their late forties, and most of them did it in their garages, by hanging or shooting themselves. 
 Her mother being from Singapore brought about the delicate Asian influence in her work as well her Roman Catholic upbringing.  In addition to her influences are other artist such as Lenore Carrington and Edward Gorey
Falling into the genre of Pop Surrealism and LowBrow art McGrath’s work dabbles on a line between fine art and fine craft. Her self taught skillful touch and attention to detail carries a craft based presentation. Customized flamboyant tailored costumes are reflective of early 1800’s, Victorian art, and old freak show circus Americana style are all key characteristics to her work. 

Deer House, 2008, mix media, 37"x20"x12"

Her primary choice in materials of two part resin epoxy, a highly flexible adhesive compound with high strength bond allows for freakish facial expressions through faux taxidermy. Efficient and truly allows for an in-depth exploration of possibilities to personify these imaginative characters. She works with various materials such as air brush paint and various glazes depending on the desired finish.
Titanic Buffalo, 2007, mix media, 58"x 20"x 27"
Savoy, 2008,mix media, 42"x22"x22"

Works like Titanic Buffalo and Savoy mix man made qualities with nature in an attempt to recreate an historical event or a newly based narrative.  Her decision to mount selected works as trophy kills adds to the afterlife melancholy air.  The tone remains constant through her grim naturalistic selection of color.
McGrath’s dioramas such as Truth Decay emulate a shrine like quality ruminative of Roman Catholicism.  On her thirteenth birthday she was sent to a Southern Baptist correctional institute for girls called Victory Christian Academy where she says “It taught me a lot of discipline. I also learned a lot of scary things about the Bible”.  She gives credit to growing up in a strict religious environment constantly being surrounded by religious imagery. 

Truth Decay, 2005, mix media, 52"x72"

- Liliane Ledesma


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