LOOK AT THIS is a weekly series featuring the work of Canadian artists, designers and creators of all sorts.
Name: Myfanwy MacLeod
Born: London, Ontario, 1961
Lives and works: Vancouver
What she does: Myfanwy MacLeod is a sculptor, painter, photographer and mixed-media installation artist who's also very funny. She uses humour in her work to critique the power imbalances she sees played out in the art world by reworking and reinterpreting iconic themes in popular culture. Her work is in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada and the Vancouver Art Gallery, among others.
Current exhibition: "Myfanwy MacLeod, or There and Back Again" is a retrospective on now at the the Vancouver Art Gallery. In keeping with her humour and analysis of male-centric culture, the title is a play on the full title of J.R.R. Tolkien’s first novel The Hobbit, or There and Back Again. In the exhibition she examines stereotypical 1970s masculine traits like muscle-car macho, sexual voyeurism, and rock and roll debauchery through reappropriated references to Led Zeppelin, Tolkien and Camaros.
Cool fact: MacLeod was commissioned by the City of Vancouver to create a permanent outdoor sculpture at Olympic Plaza ahead of the 2010 Games. "The Birds" are a pair of 20-foot-tall statues in the shape of common sparrows, one male, one female, in a nod to the famous Hitchcock film.
The role of humour in art: MacLeod told Strombo.com that she lives by the words of the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa: "No intelligent idea can gain general acceptance unless some stupidity is mixed in with it."
Recent book: MacLeod says she’s looking forward to this fall's release of Susan Fast’s book on the Michael Jackson album Dangerous for the famed 33 1/3 series. “Her book In the Houses of the Holy: Led Zeppelin and the Power of Rock Music was hugely influential in my rediscovery and appreciation of the band's music.”
Canadian artist she admires: "Gordon Lightfoot,” Macleod tells Strombo.com, “because whenever I hear 'The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald' I always get a little verklempt."