We had the good fortune of connecting with Maighdeline Gordon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Maighdeline, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
Something I have always valued highly is freedom of expression. As a mixed-race and bisexual woman, I’ve experienced no shortage of invalidation aimed towards my identity and self-expression, only to then find myself again through art. Through documenting periods of dramatic change and development in my life on film and video, and my explorations of the human body, sexuality, and our experience in the modern age through existential portraiture, I’ve found a way to connect with the human experience in a new way, and find comfort in the uncertainties of the world. I think that in a way all portraiture is existential, because we look at these pictures of people we’ve never seen before, or of our friends or family, or even ourselves, and we see for a moment all of the emotions, the pain and sorrow, and struggle, but also the love and happiness, that we don’t usually so openly express. In these photos, we see another human being, alive, a person who has lived an entire life beyond our comprehension, and in that moment we are not alone in this human experience. I find my own existence to be highly relational to the world around me, and connecting through art that is created without restricted expression is fundamental to that. I’ve always sought to create and participate in spaces where artistic expression of the self is free and encouraged, where art is allowed to be as it was created to be. That’s how I think we really see each other. I believe that this type of open creative expression, especially for POC and members of the LGBTQIA+ community, is highly cathartic in coming to terms with our sense of self and how we relate to the people around us and the world we coexist in. We hide so much of our own pain going through life, because we’ve been taught to feel shame towards our feelings or because our ego hides it away, at the end of the day those emotions we feel connect us. Through art, we can share those emotions, in whatever direct or abstract ways we want, and connect with one another over the struggles of life. Censorship of our emotions, be itself or externally imposed, only serves to divide us more, but freedom of creative expression allows us to connect to each other and overcome the idea that “we are alone”.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I think sometimes it feels weird to say, especially when I contrast myself to people who have this vision of changing the world through their art, but art didn’t start as a socially based mission for me. Art was something that gave me a way out of a dark place. It was a way to connect to the voice I knew I had but didn’t know how to use. Over the years, I found myself growing and maturing as a person, and my art was how I processed that what I learned. It wasn’t until I was much older that I was in a place to turn my art from a self-serving practice to something that I could apply to the world around me in the hope of creating change. My art inevitably changed too, the focus not so much being on digesting how I saw the world but wanting to capture moments of infinite relatability; something anyone could look at and understand, even if they couldn’t explain what it was they understood or why. So much of our communication is adulterated by societal expectations and our easily influences egos, but I believe that art is one of the few things that transcends all that. A big proponent of this new direction for me has come from the reflection of interpersonal relationships I’ve had over my life, both big and small, and thinking about the moments where I wish I had done more to better connect and communicate with others. Coming to this point in my artistic journey has come at cost. Time and time again I’ve questioned my decisions to make my way with art instead of higher education, and wondered if drawing from the traumas of my life as inspiration was just gross exploitation of pain, but staying true to the path that felt right, even when it didn’t seem to make sense, always paid off in the end.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If we’re talking Boulder? Cosmos, BMoCA, and then gateway (to show ’em how the locals throw down), The Yellow Deli (get the cinnamon roll) and Lolitas for midnight snacks. Denver? Well, Lakeside for a (terrifying) good time and then Rodizio if you’re feeling fancy, although literally, nothing beats the fries at Mustards Last Stand (also in Boulder). Portland? The Roxy every time. Seattle is still undecided, but Bok-a-bok is definitely a contender, right after spending time at Kinokuniya and that underground bookstore right next to Neumos.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My friends are honestly my biggest support. I feel lucky to have such a delightful group of individuals who not only inspire me to create but encourage me to. Some of my favorite projects have been collaborations exploring the human mind and body, our relationships with one another, and with the digital age. Everyone has such a unique personal style they stay completely true to and in working with them I can feel my world expand infinitely. Where Veronica Mendoza inspires me to reckon with my intimate and inner selves, Erin Neitzel takes me on a trip over the airwaves of the everyday strange, Dana Crawford brings me back to the quirk of my Polly Pocket childhood and Kristen Williams beckons you into the darker parts of your mind, where the cobwebs and the occult reside. Raine Roberts connects the harsh lines of a man-made world with the soft curve of the human body, Kyoko Caulfield challenges our ideas of womanhood and celebrates her Asian heritage through her intense use of color, and Daniel So invites me to connect with the people around me. So much inspiration, so little time.
Instagram: @princessofpiespice and @maighdeline
(girl in front of window) Kyoko Caulfield (legs with baseball bat) Raine Roberts (man on water) Daniel So (Man in wind) Morgan Lewis (garage girl) Erin Neitzel (Painted Woman) Connie Lee (Girl in grass) Veronica Mendoza