There is very little guidance on how to catalog the ups and downs of a life well lived, so Ohio-based artist and curator Liz Maugans created her own system. Preserved within the pages of a sketchbook, Maugans’ year-long project, Beautiful Mess, takes inventory of her last 30 years as an artist.
Spurred by the recent passing of her mother and older brother, Maugans’ Beautiful Mess grapples with mortality, memory, and the person-shaped hole love often leaves behind. “I'll never forget these wonderful people, without which my world would have been different,” Maugans writes in her artist statement for Beautiful Mess, confessing she lost a total of nine loved ones in the span of a year. “I'm a caretaker for their memories, and transmitting these remembrances has been of great importance at this time,” she continues.
Within the pages of Beautiful Mess, Maugans records a year laden with sorrow, endless sympathy cards, and the little joys found in between. Using discarded canvas, old drawings, and found materials, the artist allows her personal memories to mingle with those of her loved ones, creating a multi-faceted narrative layered with different perspectives.
Embedded with the chaos of everyday life, Beautiful Mess ultimately revels in life’s surprises, even when they’re devastating. Maugans invites viewers to experience a life lived in all its raw entirety, turning a deeply personal body of work into a means of connection.
“I'll never forget these wonderful people, without which my world would have been different.” — Liz Maugans
All photos published with permisssion of the artist.
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