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Studio Visit - Jenny McGee Dougherty

Studio Visit - Jenny McGee Dougherty

Studio Visit with Jenny McGee Dougherty

Jenny McGee Dougherty’s practice interprets and abstracts urban environments into unique mixed media works. Reminiscent of the Bauhaus movement, her use of cut paper and gouache creates bold pattern play to engage the viewer. Read on to explore her studio...

Q.

What is your creation process like, how are you conceptualizing and thinking about each of these pieces?

A.

My studio process is very intuitive. I usually start out with a concept in mind, maybe a general color palette or overall structure that I want to explore, but typically the process dictates the visual outcome. I like to experiment with new visual vocabularies, which then either stay or go when I move on to the next piece. I also often sit down in my studio and totally paint over the work that I made the day before.

 

Q.

Regarding your method of making, is it a case of the material or method dictating the idea of the other way around?

A.

I've been working with the same materials for a long time now, and I find the process of collage making to be very forgiving, so I would say the method is dictating the results. I like to lay paper down and add paint and then pull out my X-Acto knife and cut it all up.

 

Jenny McGee Dougherty says

“My philosophy is to just follow my intuition and to keep working even when I'm feeling stuck.”

Q.

Describe your work in three words...

A.

Abstract textile landscapes.

 

Q.

What’s the first thing you do when you begin formulating an idea for a piece?

A.

My brain is clogged with ideas; I rarely have a problem of having too few ideas, so when I get in to my studio it's mostly a process of sorting out which idea I want to try to articulate first. This is hard because I'm constantly overwhelmed by inspiration.

 

Q.

Do you have a favorite quote, or a phrase you think about often?

A.

My family and I just took a big 7 month road trip around the country in our converted Sprinter van. It was a big financial risk for us, because we quit our jobs and basically drained our savings to make it happen, but it was so worth it. Any time we would have a moment of panic about how things would work out when the trip was over, we would just say "the Universe will tell us what to do." And as cheesy as that sounds, it seems to be the thing only that makes the most sense to me right now. And it's also working so far––it's mostly the idea of letting go of expectations and opening yourself up to new possibilities.

 

Q.

What motivates you?

A.

My motivation comes mostly out of a need to release the built up inspiration/ideas that are nesting in my mind.

 

Q.

Silence or sound while creating? If sound, what?

A.

Podcasts. I've been listening to WNYC's Death, Sex and Money a lot, plus a bunch of other podcasts, maybe too many too list. Also Aquarium Drunkard mixes are the best.

 

Q.

Would you say you have a studio philosophy?

A.


My philosophy is to just follow my intuition and to keep working even when I'm feeling stuck. I often find that when I have a day where I'm not happy with what I'm working on, in a matter of time I'll come back and see it in a new light, so I just make sure to keep myself active. But I also know when to put the brush down and do something else, so that I don't paint over everything in sight.

Q.

Tools or mediums you’re dying to experiment with?

A.

I have a knitting machine from the 1950s that was gifted to me by my brother in law, who found it at the dump. I have worked with knitting machines in the past and I loved the pace and possibilities that the technology offers, and I'd love to hone my skills. I'm also beginning to work in clay again, after a pretty significant hiatus, and I'm excited to see how my current style of work lends itself to this medium.

 

Q.

What influences you?

A.

My friends' work. Urban Landscapes. Color theory. Natural Landscapes. Music.

 

Q.

If you could have a drink with one artist, who would it be?

A.

Right now I'd say Mark Bradford. I have always loved his work, but I'm particularly interested in how visual arts can become community based and positively influence a community outside of the art world, while also existing in that world.

 

Q.

What makes you laugh no matter what?

A.

My husband's impression of Punky Brewster's Dad.

 

Q.

What makes you nervous?

A.

When I'm in the middle of a project and I can't seem to add up the sum of the parts. When I feel like I can't see how something is going to come together. And, you know also the current state of the world.

 

Q.

What’s next?

A.

I have a few mural projects in the works, none that I can talk about yet, but I'm excited to continue to work at this scale. I'm also working on a collaboration with my friend Dee Clements of Herron Clothier, so keep your eyes peeled for some textiles.

About Jenny McGee Dougherty

Interested in the intersection between humans and their environment, McGee Dougherty’s work examines these spaces over time to unearth repetition and pattern.

 

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About Jenny McGee Dougherty

Jenny McGee Dougherty is a visual artist and arts organizer currently living and working in Portland, ME. After completing her BFA in Printmaking from Maine College of Art, she taught fine art to youth in Berkeley, CA and Ladakh, India before serving as the Associate Director of SPACE Gallery, a non-profit visual and performing arts venue in Portland. Today, she continues to work as a curator and arts advocate around the US. From small works on paper to large scale murals in public spaces, much of her inspiration for her art comes from identifying a sense of place and analyzing what it means to exist in that place.

ARTIST STATEMENT

“I am interested in the intersection of humans and their environment, both natural and built. The repetitive use of public spaces and the marks that are made, both intentionally and unintentionally, over time become a living record of the movements and actions of individuals collectively inhabiting this space. Within our understanding of the allotment of space, we often overlook the places that we use the most, while also dismissing these spaces as utilitarian or banal. When graffiti gets covered up with several shades of a neutral color, a new image and a new meaning becomes part of our landscape. I am interested in how these places that belong to everyone get woven together and how they evolve as metaphor.” - Jenny McGee Dougherty

 

EXHIBITIONS AND PROJECTS

2015, Rock, Paper, Scissors, Current Gallery, Baltimore, Maryland
2015, Selective Landscapes, Portland Mural Initiative Public Mural, Portland, Maine
2015, Press Mural, Press Hotel, Portland, Maine
2015, Goods and Services, SPACE Gallery, Portland, Maine

2014, Warped Weft Mural, Tandem, Portland, Maine 

2014, Cut + Paste, Grizzly Grizzly, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2014, Group Show, Casablanc Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts
2014, Idea of North, ICA at Meca @ Riverbend Ice Shacks, Bowdoinham, Maine
2014, Winter Group Show, Buoy Gallery, Kittery, Maine

2013, Ardor Alumni Biennial, ICA at Maine College of Art, Portland, Maine

2012, Every Single Pages, The Art Department, Portland, Maine
2012, Patterned Vernacular, Buoy Gallery, Kittery, Maine
2012, A Plausible Weft, Talent|Agency, Portland, Maine

2011, Chain Letter, Samson Projects, Boston, Massachusetts

2010, Solstice, The Oak and the Ax, Biddeford, Maine
2010, Revival, eLLO Gallery, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

2009, From Rags to Rust, Corduroy, Portland, Maine
2009, Free for All, SPACE Gallery, Portland, Maine
2009, Shack III, Sacred + Profane, Peaks Island, Maine
2009, Tryst Haunt, SPACE Gallery, Portland, Maine

2008, Overhung, Boontling Gallery, Oakland, California

2006, Consumerism, Ghosttown Gallery, Oakland, California

 

AWARDS AND RESIDENCIES

2014, St. Botolph Emerging Artist Award
2012, Hewnoaks Artist Colony, Lovell, Maine
2012, Talent|Agency Storefront Residency, Portland, Maine


PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

2010 - 2014, Associate Director, SPACE Gallery, Portland, Maine
2010 - 2014, Guest lecturer + Critic, Maine College of Art, Portland, Maine
2008-2010, Co-Founder, The Pine Haven Collective
2008, Art Educator, The Siddhartha School, Ladakh, India