The Gift of Art Workshop Book

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The Gift of Art
Workshop Book


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“From a Ball of Clay,” a documentary on college level modeling in clay and casting in Fondu Concrete. Available from Cinema Guild at

Watch The Gift of Art Circus Sculpture Ventures for Young Artists enlarged on YouTube.




Margot McMahon with Jack Egan sculpture in process  

The Gift of Art
Sculpture Ventures
for Young Artists

“The visual artist’s gift is the ability to see the tree within the seed, the spine within the blade of grass, and the whisper in the willow.”


The book

The Gift of Art is a how-to book explaining in detail the content of workshops that give students the time and space to exercise creativity by learning sculpting processes.

Margot McMahon has given workshops for 15 years including at: Hepzibah Children's Association, second grade and middle school students through the Oak Park Education Foundation, and high school students at Lake Forest High School and DePaul Prep. Margot taught at Yale University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

The book begins with an overview describing a way of making a creative atmosphere in a classroom for individual or collaborative sculpting. Detailed steps help readers hold workshops with students making sculptural objects with additive, subtractive, and constructive processes.

Some worshops feature a collaborative performance, students interacting together with their sculptures, which introduces students to the time arts.

In this Gift of Art video, students are shown Alexander Calder's "The Circus." They quickly get the idea and drift away to make their own circus, including beasts, a carousel, and even a sword swallower.

I am hopeful that the The Gift of Art will inspire young artists to forge their own paths in making art.



Your lovely book The Gift of Art is, I hope, going to be a great success and a huge help to many people. It is so accessible and practical. Well done, congratulations!

—Garth Evans

The Yale Center for British Art has supported the publishing of The Gift of Art.

Upcoming workshops

A workshop will be scheduled in June, 2017 at the Logan Center for the Arts, University of Chicago.

Past workshops

New Ragdale in Schools
Chicago's north shore

Twenty artists adapted the scuptural workshop to their own disciplines of dance, painting, choreography, and sculpture to teach children art. Twenty workshops for elementary students were be given in Zion and Waukegan schools in 2016. More about The Gift of Art, Ragdale in Schools.

Oak Park, Illinois

A Gift of Art Workshop for adults and children was held at the Oak Park Library main branch on in 2016.

Haven, Connecticut workshops

The Gift of Art Kick-off started on February 20, 2016 at Chapel Haven, a supportive environment for autistic adults, teens, and children. We made sculptures the entire day with Yale undergrad volunteers and the sponsorship of the Yale Center for British Art.

Read about the workshops in the New Haven Independent, YaleNews, and Yale Daily News.

Chicago area workshops

Adults and children learned processes of making sculpture, then experienced a collaborative, videotaped performance. Sculpting could be later shared with children in temples, churches, schools, or parks, giving kids the time and space to exercise their creativity.


The figure and organic form interpreted in geometric rhythms are what Margot McMahon models in clay and casts in metal and concrete, welds in steel or carves in stone. Her work is a rhythm of lights and shadows playing over textured surfaces of forms which refer to the every person as the hero. She has been called the Studs Terkel of the Sculpting world for her humanistic interpretations. Captured in seated poses or walking stances, her forms speak to us of both the endurance and the fragile nature of the human spirit. A lifelong environmentalist, McMahon views the human form as one with nature and creates symbols of this concept. Public sculpture commissions and museum and gallery exhibitions have been the core of Margot's work as an artist. She has exhibited her drawings and sculptures in Chicago, New York, Washington D.C, Sante Fe, Cincinnati and Connecticut. The Smithsonian, The Museum of Contemporary Art, The Chicago Historical Society, the Chicago Horticultural Society and Botanic Gardens, and Yale University have her sculptures in their collections. Besides Chicago area collections her sculptures and drawings are included in private collections in New York, Florida, London, Paris, New York and Tokyo. When working on a public commission, Margot enjoys the process of 1) responding to a community; 2) researching the concepts of the sculpture; 3) intuitively interpreting the site; and 4) creating an informed and intuitive humanistic and expressive interpretation of the concept. Margot McMahon has taught sculpting and drawing at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, DePaul University, Yale University's Norfolk Summer School and assistant taught at Yale University while earning her MFA. She has been a board member of the Oak Park Area Arts Council and a founding commissioner on the Village of Oak Park Public Art Advisory Commission and contributes on a committee of the Ragdale Foundation.

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