Artist Spotlight: Margaret Noble


From renegade spaces to a proper gallery—read this first-hand account of an artist navigating her way through her first museum exhibition.

After several years of renegade, low-budget, short-term exhibitions in unconventional and sometimes illegal venues, I received the opportunity to develop a large-scale installation in a proper gallery. Considering my many years of artistic experience in lesser conditions, it never crossed my mind that I might actually get an opportunity like this. Even though I frequently pursued ambitious opportunities, I had a romantic view of myself as an underdog.

Part of my affinity for struggling is my passion for underground culture and community-driven outreach. My sentiment being that pop-up, unknown artwork in unconventional venues is more inclusive to diverse communities. I also felt committed to the idea that my artwork must reach new audiences potentially unfamiliar with, or even intimidated by, museum culture and institutions. In fact, I realized that I was intimidated by working with the Museum. However this feeling was rivaled by my conviction that my body of work must be progressive and that I must take on new challenges. After all, that is why I applied for this opportunity. I wanted a chance to make something that was more intricate, with better materials, that would challenge myself as well as engage broader audiences.

I refocused and committed myself to three goals: make an authentic artwork that I can stand behind, honor and include the community I represented in my artwork, and honor my sponsors by producing an artwork worthy of their cultural investment.

One year later, after lessons in conceiving, formalizing, fabricating, collaborating, representing, communicating, installing, navigating the press, and presenting in a variety of public settings, I can say that I am very satisfied. The additional resources allowed the creation of a work—that I had inside of me for a lifetime—into a fully realized, highly detailed installation. My artistic experience has exponentially grown through this experience, and I am proud of my connections and outreach to the City Heights community. My exhibition has only been open a few months and close to a hundred of my students have already visited the gallery. Several people who grew up in City Heights spoke to me at the opening, and many e-mailed me after. A work that would have only been previously viewed by a tiny audience is now able to connect to hundreds, and I do feel that barriers were worn down between neighborhood and institution.

—Margaret Noble