Madelyn Owens is a Brooklyn-based artist. Her collaborative exhibition with poet Kelly Murphy, "Muscle Memory" opens today, Friday, May 11th for a two week showing at Brooklyn's World Money Gallery. Big Shoe Diaries interviewed Ms. Owens about her art practice and her friendship and collaboration with Ms. Murphy. All work featured in this interview © Madelyn Owens 2017.
|Glamour Shot - 16" x 20" - Acrylic, glitter and collage on canvas|
BSD: What inspired the collaboration for Muscle Memory?
Kelly and I have been friends for a long time, and in the past few years we both got serious about our artistic pursuits. Kelly came up with the idea of putting on a show with art and poetry. She shared some of her poems with me, and I thought they were really beautiful and reflected some of the themes in my work as well, and it just evolved from there.
|#31 - 12" x 18" - Watercolor and gouache on paper|
BSD: Have you paired your work that of a writer before? How was this different from previous creative projects for you?
I participated in a show called "Ekphrasis" which paired up writers and artists to create work based on each others work, that was a little different because the writer I was working with wrote satire, so it was fun to do something a bit more lighthearted. Working on Muscle Memory with Kelly was a lot more nuanced. For example, when she first read me her poems, the first thing I did was create some color studies for each of the poems, this helped to develop the overall mood and tone for the collection of work going forward.
|#42 - 9" x 12" - Watercolor on paper|
BSD: Do you write as well? What differences do you see in the roles of writers versus artists?
I do some writing as well. I used to write articles for Brokelyn.com, and I also write, draw, and self publish a comic called Vagilantes. Wrting comics is a little different because the images can say a whole lot more than the words do. I think writing is much, much harder. Both mediums try to convey a message, but I think there is more leeway with visual art since it can be so subjective—people bring their own experiences with them when they look at art, and I sort of love that one painting can mean totally different things to different people. With writing, you are really trying to get people to see it the way you mean it to be seen, and damn, that's hard.
|By Myself - 24" x 30" - Acrylic on canvas|
BSD: Is the work more personal or political? In what ways?
The personal IS political, duh! But really, I think it's both. The work in Muscle Memory is super personal, like literally nude self portraits and many many many images of Kelly in various poses. A lot of the work was created in my bedroom, at night, by myself, which is just a really personal time and place to work. But I'm making work primarily about inhabiting a female body, and at this point in history, that's inherently political. I would point particularly to my hair and glitter crotch pieces. I have a long and complicated relationship with my body hair, vacillating between combating it and embracing it. Earlier this year I decided to grow out all of my hair for a few months, then I asked my friend Kyle Lamar, who is an amazing photographer, to take pictures of me, close up pictures of the hairiest parts of my body. I created the glitter crotches as a response to the impossible standards women's bodies are held up to: be natural, but also be glamorous.
|Zeus - 18" x 24" - Chalk and charcoal on paper|
All or nothing! I'm working on striking a balance, but really, I'm either toting a sketchbook around with me sketching all my friends all day, and staying up all night painting, or I'm avoiding the studio entirely and feeling really bad about myself. Right now I still feel like I'm honing my skills and growing into the artist I hope to become, so I'm still spending a lot of time at figure drawing sessions, taking classes, and experimenting with different media. I just took a class on oil painting for the first time, and I'm really excited for the possibilities that presents.
Join the artists for the opening event at 7:30 p.m., Friday, May 12th.