A long, narrow hallway runs almost the entire length of the second floor of Owen Hall at UNC Asheville. About a dozen doors line one side, each opens to a different student art studio measuring about eight feet by 12. It’s in one of these glorified walk-in closets that 26-year-old Megan Van Deusen is getting ready for her senior gallery show.
Sheets of linen and canvas hang on three walls of her workspace. Each depicts an almost life-size nude female figure, captured with a Florentine artist’s appreciation of light, shadow, and the human form. They are painted using graphite powder suspended in water, refined with charcoal, dyed with tea and coffee, and then sanded to weather the fabric. The resulting images exist somewhere between a sketch and a painting.
“I used to do these elaborate Renaissance-style paintings on regular canvases,” she says of her work from a few years ago. “But then I started experimenting on loose fabric and became very interested in how my paintings became three-dimensional art.” Unlike paintings done on a stretched canvas, hers are meant to be hung away from walls and viewed from both sides.
The folds of the fabric also complement an ongoing theme in her work—veiling. The faces of the figures are covered. The incorporation of fabric into the image serves two purposes, most importantly to put greater emphasis on the human form. The other is that even though this series is comprised of self-portraits, Van Deusen doesn’t want to be the center of attention. “My high school art teacher always told me to practice painting what I have access to, and I’m always around,” she laughs.
Her frankness epitomizes the art student ethos of doing whatever is necessary to learn her craft—refusing to be hampered by an inability to hire models or the fact that they probably wouldn’t fit in her studio even if she could.
Click here to read "Alumna Megan Van Deusen: Artist on the Verge."