I just got back from a month-long residency at Jentel Arts Foundation in Banner, Wyoming in November. Artist residencies are kind of like art camp for adults. Usually you get paid (a little), they put you up, give you studio space to create and sometimes even feed you.
Jentel is an artist residency on a working cattle ranch on the edge of the Big Horn Mountains. The scenery was beautiful and the weather… well, fluctuated wildly. We had seventy-degree days and we had negative degree days and snow, but that’s Wyoming for you. At the residency, I had a giant white-walled blank box of a studio to work in. It even had a bed for naps. There were a lot of naps. That’s the magic of an artist residency, you can do whatever the body or mind needs. What that really means is that I was always working, researching, looking, sewing. It’s an utter concentration and saturation of the artistic process.
It was such an amazing experience, energizing me creatively to try new ideas and mediums. Every day I was out in nature, hiking, looking at native plant structures and rocks, or scaring up wildlife. I had contacted Ami Erickson of Sheridan Community College for some help researching native endangered species and she mentioned the college had just acquired a new lichen collection. I made a trip to see it and it did not disappoint for inspiration! I’m working on a new piece that looks like a bunch of gold rimmed velvet tacos that directly references one of the lichen structures we saw.
I had planned to make fabric sculpture but to also work on incorporating electronic toys for moving parts into my work. The animatronics work was slow in coming because the ideas weren’t really there but I did start re-skinning this dancing Santa.
One of the artists at the residency worked in plaster. I never thought about plaster as a medium but someone left a carton of it in my studio. I started playing with it as a base for my wire and fabric pieces. I am hooked. This might be something that changes the trajectory of my art practice. Mwaaaahhaaahaaa.
Sometimes you just want to do something a little easier and revisit some old ideas. To take a mental break, I created some pin tuck from lime green corduroy. I started thinking about animals, the landscape, the things we throw away and reclamation. Out popped this landscape teddy bear with little lichen type growths. I really enjoyed making (half making) a stuffed animal. Maybe there will be more in the future?
There was a giant pile of old magazine pages on the main table in the studio. I asked for some snail mail on Facebook. If you sent me a letter I would send you a collage. I get some magnificent mail but it also had me quickly generating collages and getting ideas and playing with composition. Thank you to everyone who sent me a letter!
If you’re interested in seeing some of these new fabric pieces in person come on down to the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas. I’ll be having a show March 2 – 20, 2020. We are still working on a reception date.
In other important news, we’re moving to Alabama! We are incredibly excited for all the new opportunities and challenges that we’ll find in there. We are also sad to be leaving our great community here in Missouri.
And on that note, ‘Bama MadMegh is coming your way with a giant studio purge sale. I opened up a fancy new shop on my website where you can find some of the fabulous creations that I created while here in Missouri. If you don’t think a giant fabric sculpture will fit in your house, there’s also drawings, prints, collages and embroideries. You can find the whole kit-and-kaboodle at MeghanRowswell.com/shop More works will be added to the shop daily so keep an eye out as the month goes by!
I’ve even opened up a new Etsy shop. Where you can find my bags made from vintage kimono and hand-crafted pysanky eggs. They make great gifts for family and friends. etsy.com/shop/MadMeghStudio