Peggy Noland | Texture Queen

by BJ Panda Bear

Photo by Lance Gerber

Photo by Lance Gerber

Peggy Noland is one of the few beings who has the pure might of being able to shine a neon pastel light on anyone to change their mood. Sullen moments are shifted at the sight of Noland, and when she speaks, her tone and words have the warmth that feels like a comforting long awaited hug. It is with this unique passion that she is able to extend into her work which is ever so bright and powerful. Her work channels pop nostalgia and reframes those concepts with a DIY style created in the spirit of punk and exaggerations. 

Originally from Kansas City, the artist’s career was originally fashion focused while also utilizing her craft to create large scale displays, replicas of familiar objects. Her artist practice has expanded from the fashion and led to her latest conceptual project which takes her signature humor and exaggerations with her version on the 2000’s Pimp My Ride. The project see her take familiar holographic car wraps and placing them with a crunchy textural finish, more similar to wrecked sheet metal. The technical work is astonishing as the gradient of the wrap goes from smooth to crunchy and dimensional. It is with this technique that she has adapted to this years Sonora Stage at Coachella for the 3rd year in a row. We caught up with her to discuss goo and slime, becoming a better producer and her reigning position as the “Texture Queen.”

Congrats on Coachella! This is your third year in a row…

The third year, yep. It’s the third year for the stage at all. We were out there the very first year they had the Sonora Stage.

It's your stage.

It feels that way, I don’t want to say that but it definitely feels that way.

They should change it to the Peggy Stage.

(Laughs) It's so funny, I told them they should change the name of Coachella to Sonora’s Third Birthday.

I didn’t see the stage the first year, last year it felt like the people were caricatures that were jumping right into the walls.

Totally, it was very Instagram friendly, clip-art inspired. It was also very very last minute plan B. Because Plan A was this kind of metallic, tinsel treatment but we couldn’t get enough material here in time.

Photo by Lance Gerber

Photo by Lance Gerber

So this year is kind of making up for the metallic, holographic-

I think so. You’ve got it right on the nose. It’s definitely different than what was proposed, this came after I did that crinkle car and as soon as I saw it on the car I knew that I would be proposing it for the Sonora Stage. But it fills the same void that the metallic left last year, you’re exactly right.

It’s always going to be colorful, but I feel like now it's going to be great to see it in a textural kind of way fully envisioned overall with the metallics and the color.

Totally, so there’s definitely texture this year, which is new. There’s also kind of hard and soft, the floor is very creamy and smooth and soft paints rolled together, and the walls are crisp and hard with pointed edges but that is also these hard edges that create this amazing rainbow in the foil, so I definitely like to imagine myself as a “Texture Queen,”

How did you figure out to do the floor in that swirling pattern?

I’m always swirling some paint together and trying to get into goo and swirl it around. Knowing we were going to do the holographic wrap in the walls, I was trying to find a complimentary paint on the floor, like the wall treatment, came first, the first inspiration point. The floor was my kind of answer to the walls, and I think the paint swirl was my first kinda test at how do I recreate a rainbow. How do I do with my hand what nature does so easily? You know, the swirl just came so naturally to that. I think that it's organic in a way. People just respond to slime and goo right now, do you know what I mean? I think people will feel that. Maybe you don’t have the tangible experience, you’re not touching it. But you see the swirl in hopefully the same way you would be mesmerized by an Instagram video on your feed of like paint mixing, or something. I hope that it strikes the same chord.

What is the process of it? Once you install, do you have to cure it and make sure everything doesn’t shift, and then in between roots, do you do fix ups?

Yeah, it really is kind of a dance when we’re installing because the construction crews will often still be doing their stuff, and the lighting equipment is going in, and the sound test is needing to happen, so we're really in this giant collaboration, just doing what we all need to do to get it done and get out of each other’s way and everyone that I’ve worked with onsite has been so, so awesome to work with. Everyone has the same goal, obviously, so everyone is kind of working around each other. We don’t have to cure anything. Of course, our technique is different depending on what we're doing, but there is a lot of freedom in that this is only a three-day event. This is not up for a month, this is not up for a year. So painting a wooden floor, which is the most major component of the stage, like the floor becomes a gigantic mural, and its a great expanse. The floor became surprisingly the main priority for me in designing this stage because it’s the most visual until the band gets on stage and people are standing on the floor then the focal point, of course, changes to the stage

It all gets done in a timeframe of around four to five days and then yes I come back out, midweek, to change out the foot covers, to wash any of the foot covers, to do any touch-ups, and depending on the damage, I will usually make that trip by myself, but you can kind of tell by the end of weekend one what the damage is going to be, if as night one someone has barfed all over your handmade flip covers. You’re like oh wait, I got to be prepared for this. So we make extras, keep them backstage in case there are any emergencies. I’ll usually come back out, check it out, and make sure it looks fresh for weekend two.

Peggy Noland Photographed by Joyce Kim

Peggy Noland Photographed by Joyce Kim

And this year you’re also doing furniture, is that right?

Yeah, we actually did furniture last year too, but both years including this one, we're just building on top of GoldenVoice’s furniture, so they have pre-made furniture on site and we are building off of those to make our shapes. The custom furniture is going to be new this year.

That’s amazing. I remember there was furniture, but it looks like the whole scene is so much more dimensional.

Totally, totally.

I wanted to start talking about your background. You’re originally from Kansas City, right? I love Missouri. Every single person I’ve met from Missouri I absolutely love.

Mmmhmmm. Aww, that’s really sweet. Thank you, we love you too.

I feel like I’m always around them too.

You know, there’s a lot of us out here. I will say that there really is. It true. Hopefully it's a positive addition. But yeah, I grew up in Independence, technically, Independence, Missouri which is a suburb of Kansas City and opened a shop there when I was in my early twenties and had that shop for thirteen years. I just closed it this summer because somebody bought our building, it was a painful closure. I certainly had imagined myself there for the rest of my life, but I had to make other plans. And out of that shop, I was selling clothes and creating immersive installations to house those clothes and that’s where the sculptural making grew out of and the installation came from the shop in Kansas City. And then I moved out here to Los Angeles about eight years or so ago, or nine years ago.

Oh wow, so I’ve known you for nine years?

I know! We go way back now. And I feel like I’ve known of you for years before I moved out here for sure.

As I’ve heard of you…

I feel like we’ve known each other, as far as like knowing each other in the internet age for a long time now baby, you’re an old friend. I moved out here mostly because I wanted to see what else there was outside of my hometown.

I have been loving it ever since, and find myself busy with this type of immersive environment – playful, colorful, sculpture-driven environment – it seems to be what I do out here mostly.

Photo by Lance Gerber

Photo by Lance Gerber

I noticed that you’re now expanding into these car wraps

Oh my god! That’s been one of the fun-ist projects. It’s kind of an homage to Pimp My Ride, naturally. And have done six cars now. And they’re all kind of different techniques. So, two of them have been car wraps. And the rest have been different versions of painting or crafting, right on the cars. It’s been fun. It feels very natural. It feels just like I’m making clothes in the same way that it feels like I’m making a big pattern or a big dress for a car. It scratches the same itch for me, but it feels like a new medium. It also is so great because it’s out in the public all the time. It’s parked outside 24 hours a day. And so it’s been such a joy to get tagged online, from all these people that see your artwork on an everyday basis. It’s such a joy. And that’s been an unexpected perk to this. Your art is out in the world driving all over town – all day, everyday – and people are tagging you on it. It’s fun. It’s really hard. It’s been a good challenge for my brain, to learn these new, more pro techniques that serve a really specific purpose. So it’s been a good creative challenge, too. And, cool that it led to the creative for Sonora Stage.

Let’s talk about your crew. Who is coming up with you to work on this project? Anybody you’d like to highlight?

Yeah. Well they’re all close friends of mine. About half of them I met through my shop in Kansas City, interning, or working for me over the years. One of them is my former sewing student at the Kansas City Art Institute. They’ve all since evolved into creative peers. The rest of the crew I met when I moved out here. And we all, kind of worked on the same projects all year round. And this kind of becomes like a fun art camp. They’re really crucial to my process and my attitude towards this. I definitely love doing this job, because I do it with them. They make the entire job for me.

Photo by Lance Gerber

Photo by Lance Gerber

How do you feel taking on a whole stage compared to the other artist who have installations around the festival, You’re literally fabricating something from scratch.

Exactly! In four days. On site. It’s so nuts. It’s really nuts. ‘Cause we’re also in the middle of the desert. Like, we don’t have water to wash our paintbrushes. You know what I mean. It’s like really nuts work zone. We know it now. And we love it now. And we find a way. We gotta – We bring a paint bucket of dirty water with us, you know?

What have you learned and picked up from this being the third year of the way to actually put things together. You were saying about the water and everything.

I think I did become a better producer, I was talking about dry times. Like, paint drys so much different out there. And sometimes that’s good, if you want your paint to dry fast. Or it’s really bad if it’s clogging your paint gun. There’s just some specifics about working outside of your studio that certainly make for a unique experience. And like taking care of your crew. Like the catering is insane. And I learned that if you take care of your crew’s meals, and treat them really, really well, people are happy to be there. They are nourished, they feel comforted and taken care of. Like, it’s a better quality work experience for everybody. So that’s something I’ve learned, too. Eat well while you’re working hard. It matters in so many different ways.

I like to work with the chaos. The last minute problems have to excite you. They can’t throw you off. Because it’s non-stop all day, last-minute situations that you need to figure out. So, you just have to like learn to fold that into your experience, and to expect it.

I think those are the things that I’ve learned.

I love that. It’s kind of perfect. Anything else that you’d like to mention?

I love the people that I get to do this with. I think that’s the biggest thing. What a joy to get to make a bunch of art for other artists with your friends.

I love that.