Last week Flo McGarrell—MICA grad, multidisciplinary artist, and son to James and Ann McGarrell of Newbury, Vt.—passed away Jan. 12 during the earthquake that devastated Haiti. At the time, McGarrell was inside the Peace of Mind Hotel, which collapsed. McGarrell was the director of the Fanal Otantik Sant d'a Jakmel, a nonprofit arts center in Jacmel, Haiti. An ongoing, online memorial can be at Going With the Flo.
A local celebration of McGarrell's life takes place this evening, Jan. 20, at 7 p.m., at the Middendorf Gallery in the Mount Royal Station building on the MICA campus.
During his time at MICA, McGarrell was part of Little Big Bang, a Baltimore-based performance troupe active from 1997-2002, which also included Ben Luzzatto, Sally Chang, Severine d'Albis, Sue Frame (who was with McGarrell during the earthquake but managed to escape), Mygi Harris, Olivia Robinson, and Brian Stansbury. During its time, the group curated shows (at the Whole Gallery, Maryland Art Place), staged public performances (at Artscape, at the Baltimore Museum of Art), and at neighborhood festivals and in the street. (City Paper contributor Emily Flake was a classmate of McGarrell and alerted CP to his passing and tonight's memorial.)
Since leaving MICA, McGarrell continued to find ways to eradicate the distance between art practice and life practice. His 2008 Agrisculpture exhibition at the Roswell Museum of Art in New Mexico was one of those innovative and imaginative blends of materials and intellect that can change how you interact with the world. Read a McGarrell interview about his interdisciplinary practice and check out this appreciation of his creative pragmatism.
You can get a glimpse of this everyday verve in some of McGarrell's most recent activities, such as the "Grow organic food without spending $" starter kit at the indispensable DIY hive instructables.com.
Thanks to Emily Flake and MICA professor Margee Morrison for all the background information.