The Spectrum of Maggie West

We sat down with LA artist Maggie West before she celebrates the release of her latest photo book, "23," on The Rooftop of the Standard, Downtown LA on Wednesday, April 26th.

THE STANDARD: You've said your new book, 23, explores gender and sexuality in a less binary way.
MAGGIE WEST: I felt that the men and women in a lot of existing nude books were being depicted in very stereotypical ways; very feminine women, extremely masculine men, etc. With 23, I wanted to create a nude book that felt more contemporary and was inclusive to all gender and sexual identities. Sexuality and gender exist on a spectrum. I believe that if you are doing a nude book that is a reflection of contemporary sexuality, it would be absurd not to include trans men and women and other people who don’t conform to typical gender norms. 

"Most of my work deals with examining genuine emotions in artificial settings." –Maggie West

One common trait of your many photo series (from Flora to 23) is your use of light and coloryour "spectrum"—described as "supernatural" and "psychedelic." What does it tell us about your work?
Color perception is such an essential part of our visual experience. I’ve found that when you dramatically alter colors of a subject, it causes the viewer to stop and reexamine what they are looking at. I feel like my use of color helps to give a new perspective on common subjects such as nudes and flowers.

There is a quest for intimacy in your work. How do you deal with the paradox of showing intimacy, which is personal and secret by definition?
Most of my work deals with examining genuine emotions in artificial settings. I've been drawn to shooting intimate and/or vulnerable moments because of their authenticity. It’s a nice juxtaposition of the visual artifice and the lighting.

The Kaplan Twins by Maggie West

 includes nude portraits of 23 LA-based artists, models, musicians, and adult performers. You’ve been working with a cool group of LA creatives in your projects. How does Los Angeles and its scene influence your work?
I’ve lived in Los Angeles for almost 9 years now. I love the city and the diversity of the people who live here. I do my best to try and reflect the diversity of the community in my work. I’ve met so many incredible people through my last few projects and I am excited to meet more.

On Wednesday, April 26th, The Rooftop celebrates the launch of 23 by Maggie West
with large-scale projections of her photos and a special performance by Alaska Thunderfuck
The Standard, Downtown LA | 7pm

Lead photo: Tina J by Maggie West

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