Molly McGuire is a self-taught artist, born and raised in Southern Ontario, Canada near Toronto.
Working under the name “Magwire,” she is an artist and musician based in New Orleans, LA. Her most recent output is circus banners, which re-appropriate used canvasses such as drop cloths and employ oils and tinted latex house paint.
Her circus banners are featured in the TV Show, “American Horror Story” during season 4’s “Freakshow.” She also received a first-place 2012 New Orleans Press Club Award for best editorial illustration. The illustration appeared on the cover of OffBeat Magazine‘s 2012 Jazz Fest issue, themed “Preservation Hall Jazz Band of New Orleans: 50th Anniversary.”
She has performed and recorded with Frank Black, Queens of the Stone Age, Martina Topley-Bird, Mondo Generator, earthlings?, Twilight Singers, Goatsnake, The Spores, Rhudabega, Yellow #5, Inbred Bipeds, Brant Bjork and the Bro’s, Mike West and Myshkin.
She also created and performed ARUGULA— a death metal puppet band that auditioned human drummers at The Viper Room in Hollywood. She is currently involved with the musical recording project Dastardly Jones.
Not What is Seems…
Every city, town and rural community has folklore that fuels an endless dialogue. Those who listen often find themselves inspired and perplexed by its beauty, mystery, fear and pathos.
In an age of conformity, it’s important to celebrate the diversity of difference — the wonderful weirdness that is part of nature and life itself, but is often marginalized in common culture.
I seek the subplot of each destination and explore underlying cul-de-sacs of representation, where truth and beauty land far outside the cultural paradigm. I suss out the essence that makes each location unique — fueled by the imaginations of the inhabitants.
These pilgrimages are a timeless waltz through history. Whether they reveal a ghost story, a village eccentric, a cryptid sighting, a recurring natural phenomenon, an unusual ceremonial practice or simply a celebrated indigenous species of plant or animal, my paintings encapsulate microcosms of the human condition — all within a circus banner.
When I was a kid growing up in rural southern Ontario, every summer a magical transformation would turn my hometown upside-down. The Carnival would blow in like a top-hat on a storm and morph my ordinary world into vibrant colors, thrills, jump scares and laughter.
Overnight, the boring gravel lot behind my home became a magical funhouse for a week… but then would vanish as fast as it appeared. Come Monday, the lot contained only an obese man with a metal detector, swinging it back and forth like an elephant looking for dropped peanuts.
The remaining 51 weeks of the year was spent imagining the sights, sounds and smells of the Carnival, and I fell asleep dreaming of its return.
It astounded me how this garish spectacle could transform my hometown from the most mundane place on Earth to the most exciting. I longed to experience the thrill of the big-top at all times, but adulthood soon came calling.
I enrolled in a two year sign painting course at George Brown Tech in Toronto. When I graduated in 1991 it was the most obsolete career path I could have possibly chosen because vinyl signs had just taken a foothold replacing hand-painted signs for many years to come.
That didn’t actually matter in my world because after I graduated from sign painting school I immediately did a decidedly non-adult thing: I ran away to New Orleans to play music. This eventually led me to Los Angeles out of which I toured the United States and Europe extensively for many years, but it really was not lucrative so I reverted back to my painting skills for money.
After several years as a movie set painter, I started collecting the production’s discarded canvas drop cloths and leftover house paint and put my sign painting skills to use. I began working with these repurposed materials and over time the Carnival began to emerge on the canvases. My Carnival.
So, like the little girl who once drifted to sleep dreaming of the Carnival, my paintings attempt to encapsulate that incredible feeling – all within the window of the circus banner.