Alumna Megan Van Deusen: Artist on the Verge
Megan Van Deusen, who graduated from UNC Asheville last spring, is an artist on the verge of making it big, according to the Asheville Area Arts Council (AAAC) and WNC Magazine. A number of UNC Asheville art professors and regional gallery directors are likely to agree.
Last spring, Van Deusen was named one of Western North Carolina’s top 10 emerging artists by the AAAC and was featured in the May 2009 issue of WNC. That same month, Van Deusen wrapped up her Undergraduate Research Project on “Fabric Veils: The Art of Concealing and Creating Identity,” which led to a dozen works that became her senior solo exhibition.
And in the year since those accolades, she has proven the emerging artist prediction correct. She’s held two solo shows, one at Pisgah Brewing Company in Black Mountain and the other at the Cabarrus Arts Council in Concord. She also participated in a group exhibit in Long Island City, N.Y.
More importantly, Van Deusen was recently selected to exhibit 10 of her large paintings at the William King Museum in Abingdon, Va., from May 14-Oct. 24. And she is the recipient of a Doris P. Deal Fellowship Fund for Emerging Artists, which has provided a cash stipend and materials.
The 27-year-old artist takes it all in stride. She works a retail day job and finds time after work to paint in her east Asheville home studio. “I feel like I’m starting to get somewhere with this art thing,” she humbly remarks.
And she is quick to credit her UNC Asheville professors for helping lay the foundation for her success.
“I feel like the UNC Asheville Art Department actually helps kids prepare for what they need to know about the art world. I think there’s a lot of mysticism about how to be an actual working artist, but UNC Asheville takes that mysticism away and brings in the reality of how to work, how to write a budget and how to write a grant,” she said.
In fact, Van Deusen concedes that she probably wouldn’t have had the nerve to apply for the Doris P. Deal Fellowship or to give an upcoming artist’s talk at the William King Museum if it weren’t for the practice she had in her classes at UNC Asheville.
While an art student, she perfected her unique style of painting on fabric that appears as her veiled image, reflected in a unique three-dimensional painting style. “I’m still working on the same body of work,” she said. “It’s still a concept that interests me a lot.”
Virginia Derryberry, professor and chair of Art, said, “An incredibly skilled draftsperson, Megan goes one step further by drawing and painting on unprimed cloth. Her process is further enriched in that the cloth is often transformed into a three-dimensional surface by being draped, knotted or layered into multiple surfaces. Most of the figures included in her work are life-sized so the scale of the overall pieces is monumental—if not theatrical.”
It’s certain that these unique, large-scale paintings will continue to intrigue art collectors and gallery directors. In fact, even though the exhibition in Virginia is just getting under way, Van Deusen is working on new pieces for another solo exhibit in January 2011. It’s all in a day’s work for an artist on the verge.