A Sturdy Foundation

Beacon artist draws and paints on wood

By Alison Rooney

Margot Kingon figured that raising her son in the Beacon area would be less fraught with worry than her own upbringing in Manhattan.

That was not the case.

Margot Kingon (Photo by A. Rooney)

After her son, Jameson, was born, Kingon found that maternal fears could find ways to sneak through the Highlands’ forest beds as easily as they might on pavement. But she also found that acknowledging those fears and processing them through her art let her hang some out to dry.

Kingon, who along with Catherine Welshman and George Mansfield will be exhibiting art at the Catalyst Gallery at 137 Main St. in Beacon through April 28, combines paint, ink and photography in her work, and many of her recent pieces involve placing a photograph of a silhouetted figure into various backgrounds on blocks of wood. “I am most interested in removing a subject from its environment and putting it into a new environment,” she explains.

She uses wood as a canvas because she has “never liked the whiteness of paper. The wood tone is like a neutral gray. I like the sturdiness, the heartiness of it.”

She adds: “In some pieces you’ll notice line drawing: a ropey vine, maybe a mass of snarled-looking something? That’s drawn with ink. The newer pieces in this show have very little drawing but more intricate painting.”

After Jameson, who is now 12, came into the picture, Kingon said she grew concerned about losing her creativity to motherhood. “When I was pregnant I had a strong feeling that I wanted my son to know me as an artist,” she explains. “He would only know this if I was diligently doing it. I started doing pieces, and I stuck to it, using the time right after he went to sleep.”

“I think it’s me,” says Kingon of the black figures in her recent work. “Where can I hide?”

New challenges arose after the baby became a toddler. “I thought, there’s my venturing boy, at the beginning stages of independence,” she recalls. “He has no idea of the monsters around him: slippery rocks, bullies, my own family demons. You need a way to exorcise those demons.”

Kingon recalls that when she started creating with wood she was “thinking a lot about the idea of a firm foundation — all the stuff that comes up when you have a child. I wanted to start with something solid, durable, not ethereal, so that no matter how awful the art came out, I couldn’t fault myself for the solid effort.”

Artwork by Margot Kingon

Growing up in Manhattan, Kingon says, she “always did art.” She attended the High School of Music & Art and SUNY Purchase, hoping to become a photojournalist. After a stint as a studio assistant, she began a career in film and television as an electric and lighting technician.

“There was a time in my life when I was focused on making my art my career,” Kingon says. “Now I like that I don’t rely on my art to support myself. My art has a rich life on its own. I’m trying to figure out how to work without deadlines. I love that my stuff goes out into the world and doesn’t collect dust, but to have to make a living at it makes me uneasy.”

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