Meet hyper-femme artist and photographer, Juliet Magoon, a Massachusetts native who uses her photography to smash the patriarchy. Check out our interview to find out what it's like to make bubblegum, femme art in a male-dominated world, and how she's using it to change the status quo in the newest edition of FOUND for the Original Fuzz Magazine.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Juliet Magoon. I'm a hyper-femme, feminist photographer and mixed-media/installation artist. Smasher of the patriarchy. Lover of peach pie, 80s lingerie and all things considered conventionally"girly."
What got you started?
When I was little, I was always painting my room bright colors and typing out lyrics to love songs on my typewriter to hang on my wall. This was also when I started collecting trinkets/costumes at yard sales and thrift stores. I've always loved occupying my space with items that inspire me on both a visual and emotional level.
Photography didn't fully set in until college. I was infatuated with all things femme. I noticed how, as women, we are often afraid to explore our femininity, because we fear the judgement of others (~*~male gaze~*~). I want to celebrate femininity and unabashedly capture the essence of my subjects.
Body of skin, of moss, of eager, and firm milk. 1/2
Body of skin, of moss, of eager, and firm milk. 2/2
What’s your background?
I grew up in Massachusetts, tucked away in the woods near Concord. Much of my childhood was spent walking the trails behind my house + musing over nature.
What’s the biggest challenge you face with your work?
My work tends to be created through the female gaze, and sometimes it's difficult to get my message across. My biggest critics are often men. I'm combatting and dealing with the very issues that sparked the feminist movements as I create my work. The idea of "femme-feminism" is often hard for viewers to grasp—some believe that in order to believe in the equality of sexes and identify as a feminist, a woman must appear and come across as a rough and rugged, anti-femme gal. I've always been "girly," and I've been misread because of it.
Who or what influences you and your art?
I'm so greatly inspired by strong women and femme folks that surround me in my daily life. They breathe life into my work by giving me and my viewers something to connect with, something relatable to cling to. I'm constantly reading poetry and literature of the great feminist authors—Anne Sexton, Simone de Beavoir—and haunting thrift stores for vintage wedding gowns + shimmering items of pop culture.
Some artists I'm into right now:
What are you working on now?
This summer I've spent most of my time in Washington, taking pit stops in Oregon, Idaho, North Carolina, Massachusetts, New York + Vermont. Throughout my travels, I've found dreamy inspiration in the rock faces, mountains and watering holes I find myself dwelling. Lately I've found myself (+ my camera) intensely drawn to the connections of people, human emotion, and water. When a person swims underwater, both the water + the light reflected off of its surface distorts and manipulates the natural curves of the body. There's something very raw and spiritual about shooting portraits in water.
What are you favorite mediums to work with?
I have always considered myself to be a mixed-media artist as I'm drawn to almost all mediums. I am very aesthetic-based in my process. I love working with color. I collect three-dimensional objects that hold their own meaning and history, and put them to use in the studio. I juxtapose those found objects with new meaning—the perspective of my models. I love creating dreamy, ethereal sets that are reminiscent of 90s childhood memories.
Describe your creative process.
Much of my process is collecting items that have been forgotten on the shelves of thrift shops. It took me years to build up my costume garment rack to what it is today. If my models aren't having fun and treating my studio as their personal dressing room, my photographs feel disingenuous.
My style of creating art is lighthearted and playful, never dark. I'll throw on some Blondie on my record player and my models will do their thing, usually dressing themselves and choosing their own hair + makeup. If they need a little extra glitter on their eyes or some candy to suck on, then I'll provide it.
Terrarium Hot Rod
Any favorite collaborations you’ve done recently?
I'm always looking to collaborate with other artists/thinkers. My most recent collaboration was with my good friend and fellow photographer, Sam Metzner. She prints cyanotype photographs onto vintage hand mirrors. Whenever we get together to collaborate, we always leave the studio with something magical. This time she modeled for me in an ice-cold pool after dark, in a sheer night slip from the 80s. When the slip got wet, it became even more sheer, allowing more of the soft curves of her body to be seen through the water. The teal hue of the pool floor, ripples in the water + debris on the water's surface were amplified as she floated and moved in the pool.
These photos ended up being my favorite piece featured in my thesis show—a diptych.
What’s the next step? What are you hoping to accomplish with your art?
I am always creating art, whether that means taking day trips to lakes for photoshoots or collecting flowers to press in my journal. I've began work at an organic produce farm here in Massachusetts to finish off this season, but I'll be moving back to the Carolinas in just a few months. In this downtime, I am in brainstorming mode; writing down all ideas that pop into my head, in my journal, and considering the "next step."
I would love to teach what I have learned to others. I am also constantly submitting work to various publications/ residency opportunities.
What’s been your favorite memory of the work you’ve done?
I felt really good after my senior photography thesis show this past May. I exhibited my 35mm film triptychs and diptychs in a whimsical bedroom set up. The bedroom installation was complete with powder blue princess canopy, a room occupied by vintage playboys and glitter blasted furniture, live models dressed in silk nightgowns + the warm sound of records playing in the background. I loved observing the models interacting with viewers.
Any favorite galleries or secret spots in NC?
Elsewhere living museum in Greensboro, NC is always worth checking out.
The place is filled with thrifted and discarded items over the span of decades. Each room feels as though you're stepping into a new world. The ribbon room is one that really struck me. I remember walking in and wading through the heaping mounds of ribbon piled high + draping down from the ceiling. I also love the room of light and mirrors. The green and blue lights bouncing off of each other create a super ambient, otherworldly sensation. Very cool.
Elsewhere's Ribbon Room
Anything you’d like to promote?
Follow me on Instagram @babyrosehip.
All original artist photos by Juliet Magoon. Find more of her work here.
FOUND is a monthly series by Original Fuzz Magazine. We aim to discover visual artists from every corner of the world, no matter the background or creative vision. We believe that all art is as important to our culture as music, words, news, science, even religion. FOUND celebrates the visual and those who create it, serving as a platform for the creative pioneers who embody Original Fuzz and our products.
FOUND is brought to you by Liz Earle, a freelance writer and purveyor of curiosity and imagination in the arts. If you'd like to be a featured FOUND artist, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.