Liz Magor was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in 1948. She makes uncannily realistic casts of humble objects—garments, cardboard boxes, ashtrays—that speak to mortality and local histories. Magor’s delicate copies are often combined with found ephemera, whether tiny vices—such as cigarettes, candy, and alcohol—animals in the form of taxidermied birds and stuffed toy dogs, or small mementos given to her by friends or scavenged from the limbo of thrift stores.
Social narratives of how things in the world are created, enter our lives, and depart to the junk heap as part of a vast human waste stream are folded together with personal anxieties and small worries, such as the desire to afford nice things, to mend what’s broken, and to preserve order against inevitable entropy.
The visual doubletake in Magor’s work—of things appearing one way but being quite another—are on dramatic display in the artist’s large-scale public projects where an architectural column resembles a towering Douglas fir trees and a rickety clapboard shack from a bygone era is carefully remade in cast aluminum. By resurrecting uncared for items and moments from the recent past, Magor preserves faint whispers of life in artworks that function as fossils do—exacting copies of existence.
Liz Magor attended the Vancouver School of Art (1970-71), Parsons School of Design (1968-70), and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver (1966-68). Magor’s awards and residencies include the Vancouver Mayor’s Art Award for Public Art (2015), Gershon Iskowtiz Prize (2015), Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts (2009), Governor General’s Visual Arts Award (2001), and the York Wilson Endowment Award (2000). Magor has had major exhibitions at Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (2016); Art Gallery of Ontario (2015); Peephole, Milan (2015); Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver (2014); Triangle, Marseille (2013); Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (2008); The Power Plant, Toronto (2003); Vancouver Art Gallery (2002); Documenta (1987); and the Venice Biennale (1984), among others. Liz Magor lives and works in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
In today’s Art21 "Exclusive," Liz Magor describes her Vancouver studio as a place for pleasure as well as productivity while working on a cast sculpture of a paper bag.