Unveiling Artistry: The Colorful World of Megan Wolfkill

Photos & Paintings by Megan Wolfkill

Exploring movement, identity, and fluidity through pigment and canvas

For the entirety of humanity, we have been making art. It's what connects us to our ancient roots and allows us to understand our ancestors. Art conveys the attitudes and feelings of our times far more effectively than mere words. Without art, our world would be dull, uninspired, and not worth savoring.

Artists, then, fill a fundamental need within society, showing us all that there is beauty to the world we inhabit, in the harmony of colors, the attraction of a landscape that swirls all around us. 

Megan Wolfkill is one of these artists.  She is an MFA student at UT whose work is focused on color, movement, and expression. Her Master’s thesis, Back to Back, was recently featured at the Ewing Gallery, located in the School of Art and Architecture. This collection of works is focused on movement, something Wolfkill, who earned her bachelor's degree in studio art and dance from Tulane, is particularly fascinated with. 

Specifically, on the inspiration behind these works, she stated, “[it was important for me to] focus on attention to the body and the ways that bodies interact with each other and the world differently based on the identities they carry,” noting also that, “[this is]  something that I’m really tuned into.”

Wolfkill uses raw canvas, a technique which cuts out the priming properties of gesso, and opts instead for a lesser-archival work on a pure cotton medium. This gives the works a softer feel and allows the paint to soak into the base, rather than sit on top of it. 

For her paint, Wolfkill opted for flash, a fluid-based paint, which lacks the volatility of oil paint. As a result, Wolfkill’s paintings are intimate and invite you to enter within them, rather than sitting apart from those who view them.

 “[They create] an assertive space, a space that is not afraid to announce its presence,” Wolfkill said. 

To create her works, Wolfkill begins by creating numerous sketches and plans for what she wants out of her art. She describes this as “rehearsing” the work, an homage to her dance days. Once she reaches the canvas, the work is still in its infancy and starts with a wash of color to tone. 

“It’s a ritual to start painting which helps me to get into the mindset of making a painting, and it kind of sets the space,” Wolfkill said. 

From there she “builds it up,” constantly problem-solving and compelling the canvas to do what she wants it to do. It's a fight to determine when a work is done, though she notes that she will never concretely assert that a work is ever done, instead opting to consider her art “at rest.”

Out of her biggest influences, she cites Helen Frankenthaler as number one. Frankenthaler, an American painter who participated in the second wave of American abstraction, had a career that spanned six decades and resulted in over a hundred works. Similar to Wolfkill, Frankenthaler used raw canvas, combined with fluid pigments–resulting in a canvas whose colors do not simply coexist, but fall into one another. This results in paintings that allow their viewer to fall inside. 

While Wolfkill is nearing the end of her academic journey, she has a lot to say to young artists. 

“Follow your curiosity. Whatever you're interested in is what you should go after. Even if you have no clue why, ” Wolfkill said. “If you are constantly stroking your curiosity, you're going to make it. You can make money in art. Don't worry about that. People are always like what do you even do? It's like there's so many jobs.”

On her next steps, Wolfkill notes that she is in the process of applying for studio work, though it is competitive. 

“The studio has to be the priority. I have to figure that out, no matter what else happens. Yeah, so those things are pretty competitive, everyone wants to get paid to be in their studios. So that part is kind of out of my hands,” Wolfkill said.

Art is universal, it transcends race, language, and gender. It provides a medium for catharsis and self-discovery unlike anything else in this world. Even if you don’t yet know you are an artist, you simply just have to find where your inspiration lies. 

You can find more information about Megan Wolfkill on her website, which houses archives of her work, ways to purchase, and more about the artist.

All courtesy of M. Wolfkill and Gali Du-permission to use by artists.