There is much to uncover in the diverse and precise artistic practice of artist Marguerite Elliot. Her career spans decades of women’s art herstory along the faultlines of second-wave feminism on the West Coast. Elliot’s career incorporates a vibrant interdisciplinary practice as an artist, welder, author, curator and video producer. Previously based in LA, Elliot now lives and works in Marin County in the northern San Francisco Bay Area. She was a pivotal founding member of the renowned LA-based Woman’s Building, the premier center for Feminist art, that operated for 18 years beginning in 1973. Recently, the world-renowned Getty Research Institute was awarded funding to preserve archives related to the Building, and on April 22nd Elliot will be honored alongside other women pioneers at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. In addition to her work teaching art at the LA Woman’s Building, she also taught at the Otis College of Art and Design. Her work has been included in exhibitions across the United States, including in a prestigious exhibition, Committed to Print, that dealt with about social issues – including feminism – at the renowned Museum of Modern Art in New York, NY.
Elliot has been and continues to be a formidable artist spearheading developments in West Coast feminism while also serving as an incredible force for social critique and pioneering postmodern artworks created from metalworking and steel. Her vibrant presence as a Founding Member of the LA Woman’s Building informed the community’s incredible impact, exerting a presence that could be felt over the life and cultural scene in the greater Los Angeles area. A welder and sculptor, Elliot regularly creates large-scale artworks that require a precise and exacting skill set and complete mastery of metalworking methods. Working in steel from an early period of her practice, Elliot was a trailblazer not only for a cohort of women sculptors but she has also purposed her artwork into a means of addressing hot-button topics such as nuclear proliferation, environmental preservation and homelessness.
In addition to sustaining a demanding art studio practice, Elliot has steered feminist art history and theory with her incredibly thorough the comprehensive publication, “The Woman’s Building and Feminist Art Education, 1973-1991: A Pictorial Herstory.” Edited by Elliot and Maria Karras and published by the Otis College of Art & Design, provides an in-depth look into the remarkable influence the LA Woman’s Building sustained as a force for change as a part of the greater second-wave feminism movment. Outlining how the Woman’s Building steered the career trajectories of artists and changemakers such as Judy Chicago, Miriam Schapiro and many, many more, this tome holds a pivotal place in defining women’s impact in the Modern Art canon. Elliot’s position as a guest of honor at the Getty to honor her legacy as part of this group of powerful and unrelenting women on April 22nd is well-deserved and long overdue.
Elliot’s work is decisive and, frequently, physically demanding. With a carefully developed skill set that encompasses the punishing and technically precise requirements that welding requires, Elliot not only operates within a formally precise artistic lexicon, she applies her artistic acumen toward realizing socio-political change and working toward a common good.
Currently practicing across small and large-scale welded and mixed media sculpture, she exhibits a keenly psychological and insightful approach to her artworks. Elliot’s artwork titles, such as “Where Did I Come From” and “Saved for Eternity” also assume an autobiographical, yet ambiguous, approach. Continuing to pursue abstraction, Elliot continually digs deeper into her iconography to produce precisely rendered forms that resonate with viewers in an introspective and, often, personal significance. Viewers of Elliot’s work can ponder the meaning of eternity and the now within her practice: space and time seem to collapse under the significance of her keen and philosophical vision.
Elliot’s works have been shown in countless solo and group exhibits in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City, and they are held in numerous public and private collections including New York’s MoMA. Elliot’s exhibitions have been reviewed in major art publications including the Los Angeles Times, the NY-based Village Voice, Art Week, and the Washington Post. She is a recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Elliot’s curatorial experience includes private, non-profit, and municipal galleries In Los Angeles and San Francisco and she is currently head of Elliot Art Productions, a company that works with artists to market their art and specializes in creative, promotional videos for artists. Upcoming exhibits include at North Bay Investment Partners in Berkeley, and the Sanchez Art Center in Pacifica, CA, and her studio in Fairfax welcomes visitors by appointment.