06: Awry Ecosystem - Margaret Nielsen, The Last of the Buffalo

Margaret Nielsen
Canadian, 1948

The Last of the Buffalo
Oil on canvas
Gift of the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation, NEHMA

For artist Margaret Nielsen, the journey of the individual has been a recurring theme in her artwork. The painter travels through her work and her own psyche, portraying aspects of life with a universal commonality and delving into the mystery of the human condition. Through the use of recurring imagery such as birds, the four elements, and other natural motifs, Nielsen connects the private, intangible world with the external, physical world.

This painting, The Last of the Buffalo, is an appropriation, meaning a reproduction of a previously produced image, placed in a new context and with a new meaning. The source of this painting is Albert Bierstadt’s The Last of the Buffalo (c. 1888), at the Corcoran Museum of Art in Washington D.C. Here Margarete Neilson has added an angel gleaming in the sky, hand outstretched, and eyes closed, perhaps to intervene in the combat she observes. Neilson explains, "the angel is about a collective loss, grief and the fantasy that there could be an archetypal protectress out there."

Nielsen was born in Alberta, Canada and received a Fine Arts degree from Cal Arts and a Masters in Clinical Art Therapy from Loyola Marymount University. She has taught at Otis Art Institute, as well as Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Nielsen has a humorous and quirky approach to historic and found material, which she recomposes into provocative images.