Last but certainly not least, we present: Randy Maguire!
We are pleased to have completed mock presentations with our artists yesterday. Each artist, in practice, reaches across disciplines and hungers for collaboration and community engagement in their work. Our final artist uses both to drive his work. Randy Maguire, musician/sound artist/guitarist seeks out collaborating opportunities and alternative spaces to deliver his most recent project. Enjoy!
CC: What is your background as an artist? What drives you?
RM: I am a composer/sound artist/guitarist. I have worked extensively in acoustic and electronic mediums of music, as well as exploring settings that blend the two. I perform with a group called Transparent City on guitar and live manipulated electronics.
As a composer, one of my key areas of interest recently is how we create our sense of identity and how place and myth plays a role in this process. I believe that the role of myth is very important to our existence as human beings.
CC: All three artists who are presenting at this feast have either recently moved to or moved back to El Paso. What do you find most inspiring about this city?
RM:I am really drawn to the history of El Paso. I’m not thinking of the big historical events that are written in textbook versions of El Paso history, but instead the echoes of the past in the strata visible in older neighborhoods. It seems so close, and yet there is something so intangible about it. There is a feeling that there is something mysterious and unknown just beneath the surface. That sounds really strange now that I've tried to put it into words, but those images and emotions have kind of always stuck with me.
In a less philosophical sense though, I feel that El Paso allows more breathing room to experiment and grow as an artist. The artist community is so supportive and welcoming.
CC: Is there potential for artists to grow and be challenged here? How and in what way?
RM: I think there is a huge amount of potential for artists here, but to be successful requires a certain kind of attitude. The relative isolation of El Paso provides so much freedom, but it also means that artists have to be self-motivated. They have to be constantly pushing their own boundaries, researching what else is going on, and questioning their ideas and processes.
CC: What support have you received for your work in El Paso? What support would you like to have access to as an artist?
RM: Much of the work that I’ve done to this point in El Paso has tended to be very DIY. Lately, I have been very fortunate to work with the Rubin Center, and a variety of other collaborators who have been extremely generous with their expertise and time.
The next step for me is to pursue funding opportunities- those made possible by the Caldo Collective, MCAD, etc.
CC: Having lived in various other places, how would you compare the climate for artists in El Paso with that of other cities? What makes El Paso's art community unique? How can it be strengthened?
RM: The factor of freedom is really sort of a double-edged sword. El Paso is amazing in that if you want to make something happen, you just need to find a few other like-minded people and with very little in the way of resources, you can make it happen. It seems like whenever you discuss a project you are working on with somebody else, they are so willing and ready to help you succeed.
CC: What is the role of art in a community? In society?
RM: Art serves so many diverse roles in society. It’s how we make sense of the past, and dream of the future. It’s how we discover ourselves, and how we make connections with others. We collectively create our identity, and our truth through art.
CC: How could artistic practices address the cultural identity and needs of this community?
RM: I feel sometimes that the divide between the community as “audience” and artists is huge. There are too many people out there who think that the arts are something for other people, when in reality they just haven’t experienced art in a context that is meaningful for them. Practices that engage respectfully with the community in new ways can bridge this gap. Many performing arts groups seem to be stuck in old models when it comes to engaging with the audience, and I think this turns off some people to what could otherwise be an amazing experience.
CC: How does/could your artistic practice engage the community? Why is that engagement important?
RM: I am very interested in the idea of breaking down the barriers that typically exists in concert music. I create work that can be performed in a variety of non-traditional spaces. In my case, I feel that there are so many people who would love classical music or opera, for example, but are turned off by the context in which it is presented. I want to engage with people in a way that is less guarded.
Also, the role that art has to play in helping us make sense of our identity as a community is very important to me. Some of the subjects that I have and will continue to deal with in my work examine aspects of this community that are really not represented in my medium.
CC: What role does the community have in the production/creation/inception/initiation/activation (choose which words you feel best applies) of art?
RM: I think there is room for a whole spectrum of roles for the community to play. We need art that brings in diverse viewpoints and encourages people to experiment with the role of creator themselves. We also need art that stands on its own, and challenges the values and past experiences of a community. We need art that helps us make sense of where we’ve been, and art that challenges us to think of new ideas about where we are going.
I think all of these approaches are equally valid. The most important thing is that we nurture a flourishing arts community that allows room for and supports these differing viewpoints.