Fine Artist Challenges Gender Roles Through Her Art

By Natalia Perez

Madeline Mace is a thoughtful, soulful fiber artist, with a bachelor’s degree in fine art. She pours so much of her heart into her work: challenging social norms, submitting to gallery shows, and building a continually growing portfolio. Currently based in South California, her artwork consists of commercial and fine art (her home studio is absolutely adorable). 

What is the best part of creating what you do?

I love that my studio provides me an outlet to create something with meaning. 

I believe it’s important not to just consume but to give back, and this is my way of giving back to the world through creating. Through my domestic-like artwork, I find that I am able to meditate and voice myself at the same time. 

Tell us about your recent gallery opening:

My recent gallery show was titled “Hysteria.” My art aims to challenge gender roles within the stereotypical American family, especially in relation to the femine domestic life. I use readymade objects associated with memories and/or masculine symbolism–specifically objects that evoke a sense of danger or threat. I then confuse these objects by surrounding–and therefore controlling–them with fibrous materials that are delicate and soft. Repetition is a recurring theme in my work and how it relates to the female domestic experience in a controlled environment. 

What is your artist philosophy?

I believe art is able to communicate political, spiritual, emotional, aesthetic, and philosophical ideas, and that it’s my responsibility as an artist to be part of a larger conversation in society- whether it means communicating an idea or critiquing an idea–it’s still an immense responsibility. 

How do you stay inspired and avoid creative ruts?

Visiting art museums. If I’m ever in a creative rut, it probably means that I haven’t been consuming enough art. Art inspires art. Experiences inspire art. Research inspires art. All these things can be accomplished  during a trip to a museum. I also love going to antique shops as well as thrift stores–there’s always something to be inspired by in these places. 

What are the five most important items in your artists studio?

  1. Sewing needles
  2. Embroidery hoops
  3. Thumb tacks (extra long)
  4. Yarn/thread
  5. Trash can (I love a big trash can)

Who are your biggest inspirations?

  • Judy Chicago – mother of the feminist art movement
  • Anne Hamilton – visual artist, multimedia, textile design
  • Eva Hesse – sculpture artist

What does your creative process look like? 

I love having 3-4 hour blocks at a time when working in my studio. I put on a good podcast, audiobook, or musical and I’m ready to start working. I lay out all the materials I need at my large work table and start analyzing and making sketches of the plans that I have in mind. 

When starting on a new project there’s usually a lot of trial and error, so I have to account for the time it takes to learn a new skill or medium when working. Every project tends to look different for me, but most of my work is very portable and I enjoy taking my work with me when I travel or even just visit friends. I always have to keep my hands busy.

Fave songs for boosting creativity? 

I ‘m a huge fan of musicals. My current go-to’s musicals are Hadestown, Six, and Hamilton. I love having  upbeat energy in my studio. Either upbeat or extremely moody alternative music. 

How does creativity bring goodness to your life? 

I believe that I was created to create. I feel that I am doing exactly what I was put on this earth to do when I’m making artwork. I would not be who I am without art. I was born an artist–not just an interest, but an incessant need to use my hands to create. I have no choice but to be an artist.

What do people not know about what you do? 

There are many sacrifices that are made to make art. We often hear about the financial sacrifices–however there are also physical sacrifices. The amount of hours hunched over a table working, contorting the body in unnatural positions while working on a project/installation larger than yourself, getting tendonitis or carpal tunnel in the hands, eye strain, lack of sleep, poor diet, etc. Many of these issues are brought on by the hours of passionate labor put into your artwork. 

Let’s be real, what’s the hardest, most frustrating thing about what you do? 

The hardest part for me is being protective of my time in my studio. There are not enough hours in the day to do all the things I desire to accomplish. It’s extremely hard for me to divide my day into all these different segments and still be able to prioritize art making. I often find myself not protecting my studio time as I would a normal job. I sometimes end up sacrificing the sacred hours in the studio in order to see a friend, spend time with family, or complete an errand.  Though these are all worthy things to do, it’s  frustrating when it means that I have to choose between two things that are necessary to do. 

How do you express your identity through art? 

Artist. Female. Child of God. I am all these things at one time, there is no order of  hierarchy for me because they hold equal value. I cannot isolate one from the other. 

I mix my personal experience of  being a woman with interactions I have witnessed, stories I have heard, as well as historical perspective on the female experience. 

Follow along with Madeline’s art by visiting her Instagram +website.

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