Originally from Mexico City, KCMO artist Margarita Friedman is a painter, educator and co-founder of Art Garden KC. Her paintings are inspired by her experiences and communicate a social message. Margarita’s artwork will be on display at the Antioch branch until April 30, 2023.
Introduce yourself and describe your work.
My name is Margarita Friedman. I am from Mexico City, an immigrant and single mother of three children. I am a professional portrait artist. Oil is my medium, and I am passionate about classical painting techniques. My personal work is either cathartic or group portraits in which the message is beyond the portrayed.
How does your work comment on social issues? Do you consider yourself and artivist?
I am an artivist. I use art to voice my concerns or bring awareness to problems. Group portraying is my tool. A single portrait is just a portrait, but when many portraits are put together, there is a social message. I have two projects started: one is the Beehive. It is about first-generation immigrants and their contribution to this country. Each portrait is painted on large hexagonal panels with encaustic. The second is about family as understood in Latin-American. On 8” x 10” panels I portray a member of my family. It starts with my grandparents and continues with all their descendants and spouses born during the XX century. When done, we will be 136. Besides family, it is about overpopulation!
What areas of your work or personal development are you hoping to explore further?
That’s my Drawing is the amalgamation of all my formal education in art, psychology, my experiences as an immigrant, minority, single mother, etc. It started as a way to raise funds for the art department of the participating schools on the Northeast, bring pride to parents and children and raising funds for the school. For this project, with the collaboration of the art teachers, I get all the students’ drawings from K-12th grade of the NE public schools. Then, as the children’s assistant, I make a finished painting respecting the integrity and intention of the child's drawing. I had to learn to use acrylic paint and paint loosely like a child. Some drawings are an open window into the children’s world.
The most difficult part is getting the drawings due to the red tape and parents lack of response in returning the authorization letter. I hope to bring awareness to the problems that break children attending inner city schools, resulting in crime, drug addiction, mental problems etc., and that it is cheaper to address this issue (hire more school counselors and create an aggressive marketing campaign to recruit residents to become mentors) than increasing the budget for more police officers, more jails, more judges and more gas for patrols etc.
How do you feel when a piece is finished?
If it came out fine, I feel it was pure luck, and that I will not be able to do it again.
What is your most important artistic tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
For my professional portraits, top quality pigments, like Old Holland, because they are predictable. For the That’s my Drawing project, the plastic bottles with a spout and syringes to draw and paint with.
What books movies and/or music have inspired you recently?
Love is the Devil challenged me to make a self-portrait every day for a month as a way to accept my aging face. The That’s My Drawing project required that I paint like a child in acrylic. After doing some exercises from Painting in Acrylics: The indispensable Guide by Lorena Koosterboer, I gave up, the results were too anal. Poured paint, silicon spatulas instead of brushes did the job.