‘Everyone Should Have a Studio’: Artist Liz Magor on the Sanctuary Where She Translates Humble Objects Into Precious Artworks

As part of a collaboration with Art21, hear news-making artists describe their inspirations in their own words.

Production still from the Art21 "Extended Play" film, "Liz Magor: Everyone Should Have a Studio." © Art21, Inc. 2017.

In the practiced hands of Canadian ceramicist Liz Magor, a soft paper bag, creased over time and worn thin, is transformed into an object of “vitality or vivaciousness”—cast into a larger-than-life, rock-hard object she carefully paints a glossy pink. Challenging conventions of subject matter and materials, Magor translates banal objects made of humble materials into items with actual weight.

In an exclusive interview as part of Art21’s “Extended Play” series, the artist described her work as a way of being able to infuse these humble objects, which she refers to as “‘below the radar’ or the ‘ever-present-but-unacknowledged’ things,” with meaning.

“I want my mold-making to register them,” she explained. “They’re always there, but they’re not always acknowledged. Those are the things I’m interested in.”

Production still from the Art21 “Extended Play” film, “Liz Magor: Everyone Should Have a Studio.” © Art21, Inc. 2017.

Magor stressed the importance of her studio space—a sanctuary where everything is in service of her work, with few distractions and very limited technology. “I keep the studio in a very rudimentary state,” she told Art21, “If I’m not here, I want to be here… Everyone should have a studio.”

Viewers will have an opportunity to see the fruits of her labor in her first solo institutional show on the East Coast in “Liz Magor: BLOWOUT,” debuting first at Harvard University’s Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts before travelling to the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago.


Watch the full segment, which originally appeared as part of the “Art in the Twenty-First Century” television series on PBS, below. “Liz Magor: BLOWOUT” is on view at the Carpenter Center from January 31–March 24, 2019.

This is an installment of “Art on Video,” a collaboration between artnet News and Art21 that brings you clips of newsmaking artists. A new season of the nonprofit Art21’s flagship Art in the Twenty-First Century television is available now on PBS. Watch full episodes and learn about the organization’s education programs at Art21.org.

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