PaperCity Magazine

April 2019- Dallas

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Page 83 of 99

C atherine MacMahon's studio is an artist's dream, with a 20-foot-high peaked ceiling, skylights, a loft she uses as an office, and an enclosed "wet room" for dyeing fabrics and printmaking. It's a far cry from the series of cramped studios she rented in New York for years, where she lived after marrying investor Douglas MacMahon. "My studios kept getting smaller, but I needed more space," she says. "This constant moving around was very disruptive for my thinking and making process. There are a million reasons to love living in New York City, but as an artist it can be exhausting and frustrating. That can really squash the creative process." By then she also had twin babies. So when her husband moved the family to Dallas for his job five years ago, the opportunity for more space and a less hectic lifestyle opened new possibilities for the artist. MacMahon worked out of their house in Bluffview for a while before designing her own studio in 2014 on a corner lot on West Lovers Lane. "That was a huge moment for me, when I realized I was going to be able to build this studio," she says. "I would never have been able to do that in New York or San Francisco. It was always a fantasy, and now it's everyday reality." She enlisted the help of local architect Jay Smith, who had previously helped the couple with remodeling projects on their house. With an exterior clad in corrugated concrete, the building is as reductive and appealing as MacMahon's art. "I wanted to use similar materials on the building that I use in my work," she says. "There is no decoration — the assemblage of simple materials serves a functional use and is the beauty of the building. It inspires me every day." Inside, a giant steel beam runs along the seam of the roofline and serves as a track for heavy-duty hoists and pulleys. Another beam runs parallel to the building and serves as both a cantilevered awning detail and secondary track for a pulley outside. MacMahon works with a lot of heavy materials in her art, and these tools help her lift and move large pieces, including demolished concrete salvaged from the roadside and construction sites. Rebar, or the internal metal structures that reinforce concrete bridges and buildings, often protrude from the broken concrete chunks. The artist wraps the rebar with thread, too, as a part of her ongoing exploration of the line. "One of the great things about being in Dallas is there's so much construction going on here," she says. "I'll be driving down the highway, and they've just exploded some big expansion of highway, and there's all this concrete with rebar sticking out of it. I find that so exciting and beautiful." A massive overhead door on one end of the studio rolls away to accommodate a truck full of materials, or to flood the studio with fresh air and light. Last year, when her youngest daughter entered kindergarten, the floodgates of creativity opened up. MacMahon now regularly devotes four to five hours to her art each day, and having a studio so close to her Bluffview home means she can pop in for brief hits of inspiration. She also has more time to pursue activities that are important to her. She's on the Learning and Engagement committee at the Dallas Museum of Art, and serves as co-chair of The Great Create, benefitting the Nasher Sculpture Center's education programs, held on April 28. "You can't rush the process of making great work, but you can exercise creatively as a daily practice that keeps the juices flowing," she says. "At the studio, I surround myself with layers of process and old works. I'm always carrying a sketchbook, and I always write in my journal. I'm constantly thinking, constantly pushing. I am often uncertain of my path, but I am always certain of my process. I love that state of certain uncertainty." MacMahon's first solo exhibition, "Lines," opens Saturday, April 6, at Erin Cluley Gallery, 150 Manufacturing St., (continued from page 81) 82 A loft serves as MacMahon's office space. Walls are covered in Homasote, a dense recycled material board that serves as pinup space for old work, inspiration, and future ideas.

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