Imagine that you’re 27 years old and in the prime of a privileged life. One unremarkable day, you decide to wear a certain dress, to a simple dinner party, not knowing that by doing so, you will watch your dress, 70% of your body, and then your life, go up in flames.
For Margo Arnold, a bold 70 year old artist and leader of an international art community those seemingly unremarkable decisions led to 5 years of plastic surgery and 7 years of litigation; resulting in the dress maker being found 100% liable for forever changing the rest of her life. Margo says it took her “20 years to attain any semblance of emotional stability” after the fire.
Admiring her bold pink scarf and green sweater takes on a new context when I realize the painful physical and emotional recovery a trauma like this requires. Being bold in clothes that say, “Look at me,” is braver than those of us untouched by such life-changing events can ever imagine.
Margo Arnold is a walking miracle of recovery; from the fire’s physical, emotional and financial aftermath; from riches to rags and back (to normal anyway…).
In the early 1990’s Margo moved to Washington, DC with her husband for his job in the government. Unsure of what she wanted to do in DC, she took a course called the SELP—Self Expression and Leadership Program. “We had to dig inside ourselves, see what was meaningful to us (for me that was art and support groups) and then create something.
“Having gone to art school, I am an artist and wanted to exhibit my work. I was told to provide for others what I wanted for myself so…I founded International Artists Support Group (IASG), a 501 c3 non-profit in 1992-93,” said Margo.
“My original mission was that artists exchange tips and tricks. What it turned into was that artists mounted shows for themselves globally.”
The Washington Color School was an art movement in the 1950’s and 1960’s, focusing on abstract art and the use of color. Margo used part of an inheritance to start The Washington Color School Project. The Color School Project launched in December 2010 at the Cosmos Club.
Aside from her role celebrating and archiving Washington D.C.’s art history; and working as a top salesperson for a large international printing company; Margo is most proud of her ability and passion for coaching people off “the skinny branches.”