Margie Livingston’s desire to liberate painting from illusion and free herself from the limitations of traditional painting pushed her to articulate and embrace an entirely new approach to making work. Employing strategies and methods associated with the construction and carpentry trade she builds three-dimensional "paint objects" that are made entirely out of acrylic paint, allowing her to directly translate the phenomena of space, light, color and gravity upon these hybrid structures. Solid blocks and logs of paint and sheets of paint reconstituted into “wood” products, such as waferboard and paneling, investigate the properties of paint pushed into three-dimensions.
Inevitably layered with personal history, Livingston’s work also has art-historical connections. In the case of the paint objects—simulacra of building products that experiment with paint’s materiality, render the conventions of minimalism in three-dimensionalpainted form, push paint into the domain of sculpture, nod to the ready-made, and use nonmimetic color to highlight their own artificiality—the obvious links are not just with Frank Stella’s paintings but also with the work of Jackson Pollock, Donald Judd, Carl Andre, and Lynda Benglis.
However, Livingston’s paint objects also subvert, challenge, and recontextualize this history. The gesture of individual expression, the “heroic”, and even the autobiographical and craft bias of much historical feminist artwork is sliced by machinery or obliterated by layers of accident, collaboration, and carpentry skills that draw attention away from the hand of the artist and towards the process itself. But these objects’ indebtedness to earlier artists is only one of their collective dimensions. Another is their evocation, however oblique, of the natural world’s ravaged state.
Margie Livingston received her M.F.A. in painting from the University of Washington and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 2001, a period she spent living and working in Berlin. Other awards include a 2019 Vermont Studio Fellowship and MONA FOMA Artist-in-Residence, Launceston, Tasmania; 2014 Artist-in-Residence, Oregon College of Art and Craft, Portland; 2011 Artist-in-Residence at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE); the 2010 Neddy Fellowship from the Benkhe Foundation and the 2010 Arts Innovator Award from Artist Trust (funded by the Chihuly Foundation); a 2008 Artist-in-Residence at the Shenzhen Fine Art Institute, and the 2006 Betty Bowen Memorial Award. She has been featured in solo and group exhibitions at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, Shenzhen Fine Art Institute, Amerika Haus-Berlin, and Sawtooth ARI, Lanceston, Tasmania, among others. Margie Livingston's work is included in the permanent collections of the Seattle Art Museum, Portland Art Museum, Henry Art Gallery, Universiy of WA, Shenzhen Fine Art Institute, Tacoma Art Museum, Microsoft Art Collection, Eugenio Lopez Collection, Joel and Zoe Dictrow Collection, New York, and numerous other private and public collections.