Margaret Garrison joined Seattle Academy in the sixth grade and has since excelled in the arts. Throughout her career at Seattle Academy she has proved to be a talented visual artist with a variety of interesting skills. In our interview, Margaret explained how she became such a creatively diverse person, and how she is planning to continue her work in college
.Jackson Gannon: How did you first become interested in the arts?
Margaret Garrison: I’ve been interested since as long as I can remember. My parents had a TV in their room that I would sit in front of while I made crafts with paper and tape. I think that’s when my creativity really started.
JG: What was your first passion?
MG: Besides crafts when I was younger, in middle school, I enjoyed painting a lot. Right now I’m most passionate about ceramics though. I started doing clay at my elementary school but my skills really developed sophomore year in Donna’s ceramics class when I just started throwing.
JG: What are all the types of art you like to make? I know you bake as well, any others?
MG: I love to bake; I love ceramics; I love sewing; I love fashion. I even considered going to school for fashion but I decided that the market for fashion would make it too hard to pursue professionally. I’ve gotten really into painting, and working with mixed media on canvas. Things like collage and 3D art.
JG: How has SAAS helped you with your creative process?
MG: SAAS itself is a building of creativity. There is creative energy flowing through the halls all day long, but then in April’s room it just sits there. And when you’re in there, you’re surrounded by all of these other creative, talented people. I’ve been fortunate enough to take two art classes every trimester for the last two years and I get to stay in that zone and make art for 2-3 hours a day. The teachers and the students at SAAS are very helpful with feedback and critique. The art faculty - April, Donna, Tom, and everyone else have really helped me develop my ideas and my style of art.
JG: As a senior, you are planning for college process. I assume you want to keep pursuing art in college. Are there any particular fields that you think you might focus on?
MG: Yes. I’m in the process of hearing back from several art schools that I have applied to. At first when I was thinking about the college process, I thought I was for sure going to go school for textiles and fibers, working with fabrics and patterns. Like I said I started ceramics in sophomore year and really fell in love with it and realistically I didn’t really think you could go to school just for throwing things and for working with clay. As I started touring art schools I realized I could get a major in ceramics and a bachelors in fine arts with a focus on ceramics. So I hope to pursue either textiles or ceramics in college. I want to pursue something that I love to do.
JG: What are you most proud of as an artist?
MG: Some of the things I am most proud of you can actually see at SAAS. There is a shelf in the Arts Center with about six topsy turvy pots which I am proud of. The series actually started out on an accident. I was creating a piece and it started to fall over on me so I kept working with it. I’m mostly proud of that because it was a moment where I taught myself to accept an accident and work with it to create something even better. I’m also really proud of two of the cakes that I have done. One of them was a white wedding cake and a princess cake. Both of them were done with fondant and are both in my portfolio. I also have three self-portraits, all done on value scales that I am proud of. They’re all self-portraits made with the lightest shades of white to the darkest shade of black. Even though they were a little easier to make than some things because it was mostly just shapes, the faces were complicated because they were full of attitude.
JG: I’ve seen that you have also wrote a couple articles for The Cardinal, are you also interested to pursuing journalism?
MG: I’ve written a few articles for The Cardinal, yeah. I think it’s always interesting to hear about other people’s stories and to share them. However, when I did those articles, it was less about how I wanted to be creative because it wasn’t my story. I don’t really think I want to pursue journalism but I think it is important to be articulate when you are an artist.
JG: Are there any other people’s stories that have influenced you? Other artists?
MG: I went to the Museum of Modern Art in New York on a college tour and I saw the Cindy Sherman exhibit. She’s a photographer who does mostly self-portraits. The self-portraits were of her dressed up as stereotypes and different personalities. It really inspired me because she views her work in a certain way but as I walked around the exhibit, everyone was looking at the pieces completely differently. We would all be staring at one piece and everyone would see it with different eyes and see it in different ways. It inspired me to approach my art from many different angles, not only from my perspective. It helped me be okay with people seeing my art differently than how I see it.
JG: What do you think is your favorite part about creating art?
MG: It’s hard to describe it, you know. You go through a different process every single time when you make a piece of art. My favorite part is probably starting a project. Finishing a piece is always very satisfying, but starting is when I know I have the most time and opportunity to take it any direction I want. It’s taking that very first step away from a blank slate that is so gratifying— to know that what you have just started will become a fantastic piece at the end.
Not only does Margaret produce amazing artwork, she also was a key asset to the girls’ varsity volleyball team. As a baker, a ceramist, a textile designer, a painter, a sewer, and a volleyball player, Margaret can live up to the seattleacademy.org homepage quote. Margaret embodies the SAAS spirit of creativity and what it means to be a SAAS student through her creative exploration and attitude towards work.