DELAROQ continues our Women We Love series of portraits with a focus on Asian American gallerist, curator, and advisor Margaret Liu Clinton. For the past seven years, Margaret has run one of the most multidisciplinary contemporary art galleries in New York. Prior to running her own exhibition space, she directed Alexander Gray Associates and Miguel Abreu Gallery. In addition to working in commercial galleries, she has also worked at: Acconci Studio, Blind Spot Magazine, Parsons The New School for Design, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, Independent Study Program, of which she is also an alumna.
Margaret, or as we know her around the DELAROQ office, Maggie, began working with artists informally by helping friends produce short films or writing artist statements and editing texts. As with any pursuit that moves her - critical art practices, slow food, sustainable design, or social justice – Maggie’s known for advocating with her ‘Eyes on the Prize.' Because she’s as much a fan of Michel de Certeau as she is Naomi Klein, Maggie firmly believes in the power of our daily choices to impact greater change in the world - individual efforts are often considered within the context of wider communities. This cosmopolitan New Yorker is also an avid traveler who appreciates the right combination of style and function, which is why she’s one of our favorite fans of sustainable luxury for active lifestyles.
Favorite DELAROQ bag: Troisième Tote in Bisque
What does influence mean to you?
I associate influence with people who lead their lives with a sense of purpose - in relation to a career, their families, their communities, or even to certain ethic. Charles Renie Mackintosh once said that: “There is hope in honest error, none in the icy perfections of the mere stylist. “ I admire people who feel compelled to push further and to reach higher – especially if their efforts take into account the impact that they might have on others, on a wider ecology, or on history.
How has your upbringing influenced you?
I’m an Air Force brat so I grew up moving pretty frequently. Those moves forced me to adapt to new cultures and communities very quickly. I never really belonged anywhere, yet that sense of liminality also granted me a certain freedom to observe and to explore. As an adult, travel has become an essential part of my life. Travel expands my perspective, feeds my imagination, and deepens my compassion.
How have the other women in your life influenced you?
One should not answer a question with a question, but I can’t help but think to myself - How haven’t they? There are myriad ways in which women of multiple generations have looked out for me personally and professionally. Each day, so many leading women bravely carve out new paths for all of us to forge ahead. And then there’s an entire level of ‘ordinary’ heroics that continually astounds me. Women show up for so many people in their lives while often juggling multiple responsibilities. Those that can also maintain themselves (i.e. show up for themselves too) command my greatest respect. I should also mention that over the past year, I’ve also gained such a sense of connection to a wider community via podcasts, both with female podcasters of all stripes and with programs that are focused upon women, such as the Unstyled series produced by Refinery 29 or the Broad Experience produced by Ashley Milne-Tyte.
What does female community mean to you and how do you cultivate it?
Too often, women are expected to accommodate others selflessly. As such, in professional settings, I’ve seen women leaders maligned for possessing the same focused qualities that are commonly praised in their male counterparts. It’s going to take some time to reframe female focus as a source of strength and rich potential. In the meantime, we must do what we can to show up for ourselves and for one another. At work and with friends, I think it’s really meaningful to actively hear one another. I’m Asian. I listen best over a shared meal.
What does sustainability mean to you?
In the grander scheme of things, sustainability means thinking ahead and living more intentionally because you realize that even small actions can have a great impact. Sustainability also means connectedness and a shared sense of vulnerability. As climate change and disaster impact so many – I’m perpetually reminded that the stakes of my actions extend far beyond just me.
What do you like most about your personal style?
My style is mostly garçonne and with a twist of humor. I care less about trends and more about the history, quality, and function of clothing and accessories. I also like wearing watches. Not only are they handsome, they keep me off my phone.
What makes you feel empowered?
Knowledge. It’s always been the best remedy for fear.
What makes you feel valued?
When I know that I’ve been heard and when the quality of my work, my efforts, or my care is acknowledged.
Tell us about some of the current or upcoming projects that excite you most?
Over this course of this past fall, I organized five shows in three venues (four exhibitions in two galleries and an art fair presentation in Miami). That’s about twice a many exhibitions as I would normally produce but I really enjoyed the variety of artists and artworks I was able to work with simultaneously. For the solo presentations, I featured artists in their 70s, 60s, 50s, 40s, and 30s which, in turn, offered audiences a very dynamic set of artistic approaches. For the one group exhibition I curated, that range grew to include artists in their 80s to artists in their 20s. I feel pleased knowing that I based my selections on the quality of the artwork, while trusting that the combination of both my life experience and professional experience enabled me to locate excellence across cultural boundaries.
Makeup: Anie Lamm-Siu
Hair: Tiffany Fodor
Styling: Siobhan Coffey
Photo Assistant: Millie Crawford