By: Cayley Bowman, Staff Writer
USM is a school that has a vast variety of different artists which creates an environment for students to explore what they already love, or for students to find new hobbies that they have never attempted before. Madison MacDonald, an artist here at USM, is in her fifth and final year of college. MacDonald is majoring in theater with a minor in art and a focus in painting and drawing. Through coming to this university she is exploring something that she already loves: art.
MacDonald has been drawing and painting ever since she could remember. Her family even has a photo hanging on their fridge of MacDonald as a toddler holding up a paintbrush while being covered in paint. When asked what her favorite form of art was, Macdonald replied, “I think my favorite form of art would have to be drawing and painting.”
However, recently MacDonald has discovered that she thoroughly enjoys the art of foam carving, which she discovered while working on her puppet-making independent study. Art can mean many different things to many different people but for MacDonald, she said, “I think for myself and my personal work, art is a sort of vessel for expressing and interpreting whatever is inspiring me in the moment.”
MacDonald makes all different kinds of art. “In regards to my studio art, I have always loved to draw fantasy illustrations and drawing all sorts of monsters and creatures,” says MacDonald. She mostly works with a variety of drawing materials, watercolors, oils, acrylics, and on occasion she plays around with digital art.
The artistic world that the moment that MacDonald gravitates more towards is theater due to it being her main focus right now. She mainly works with making props, painting scenery, and she has recently been getting into puppet-making. MacDonald said, “In my theater work I have done everything from making a brass candlestick out of a pool noodle to building five giant dragon heads out of newspaper, tape, and wallpaper paste.” She notes that the theater world requires a lot of networking, getting to know and working with a lot of other theater artists, and being flexible.
Every artist needs inspiration to create their work and that’s no different for MacDonald. “In regards to my interest in fantasy illustration, I have always found inspiration in dragons. They’re something that I always come back to in my art, and I really enjoy how flexible they are as a subject. I love being able to endlessly play around with shapes and colors and textures, and transform all of that into a living creature,” she said.
However, this is MacDonald’s only inspiration, she is still inspired by various textures and forms found in nature, as well as dramatic lighting and color. When it comes to most of her work, MacDonald likes to keep it mysterious. “I enjoy illustrating environments where people can mentally crawl in and explore and use their imagination to come up with what they think is going on,” says MacDonald. For her there are times when she does not necessarily think about what the work is trying to say, but she instead focuses on just creating for the simple joy of creating, and hoping others find joy in it as well.
MacDonald recently placed third in USM’s 2022 Student Juried Exhibition, where students of any major can send in their art and have it displayed in the art gallery. Macdonald got third place with a piece she created in 2021 called, “Inside Information,” which was made with oils on a wood panel. The piece that she submitted was from a series of illustrations of J.R.R Tolkien’s “The Hobbit.” She created the piece for one of her online painting classes, while most students were still doing classes from home.
MacDonald wanted to submit a piece to the competition since this is her last year in college and she had not yet submitted a piece to the Student Juried Exhibition before. “I also thought it would be a good opportunity to show off some art that I’m proud of and that hadn’t been seen by my peers and professors in person before,” said MacDonald. Showing off her art outside of a classroom is new for MacDonald, but she is making great strides. She recently created an Instagram account for her art, which can be found at @madisonmacdonaldart.
MacDonald has been thinking about pursuing art for her career on and off for years. She said, “I am still figuring out if I want to make my love of making art and theater into a career, or if it would make me happier to keep it as something I do in my spare time.” Either way, she feels that she will be happy as long as she has the ability to create for herself. MacDonald will be content to make art for as long as she can, in all the many different and unique ways that she knows how.