Highlights from the Topsfield Library Art Collection.Thursday, February 11, 7:00PM.

For a small town, Topsfield, MA. is home to a lovely library with an impressive art collection, much of it purchased through the Gould fund (Robert Gould Shaw was the captain of the Massachusetts 54th all-Negro regiment during the Civil War made famous in the movie Glory).

This lecture, given on Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 7:00 highlights the architecture of the library and a few examples from the art collection. As the presenter of the lecture, I will tell the story behind some of the more unique pieces; what I like to refer to as “the art in the art.”

Notice any similarities between Millet’s The Sower on the left and the mural from the library lobby on the right? We will review this oddity during the lecture.

The benefits of adding nature-based artwork to the office environment.

Biophilia (love of nature) is the idea of interacting with nature no matter the actual environment-including an office interior. For artists and designers, this can be incorporating works of art that focus on nature into the work environment. One of my favorite natural subjects to focus on in my own artwork are birch trees. The morning light streaming through the skin like bark of the birch tree in this example allows for an inspiring welcome to those entering the work space.

For the state of New Hampshire, I was commissioned to create six paintings of the state tree, the white birch, as it transitions through the times of day and seasons of the year. This installation reflects the people who use the building to acquire their earned licenses as they too are transitioning through stages of their own lives.

Transitions (2014). Six 90 x 40 inch paintings of the state tree, the white birch. Commissioned by the State of New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Council on the Arts
Birch tree, in-situ. Available on my giclee page.
Office interior lobby . Blank wall for copy space, lots of light, sunlight scene. Black leather sofa. gray floor tiles. daylight scene. designer copy space background

The story behind the Walker Hancock sculptures at Trinity Church, Topsfield. Presented by Meg Black, PhD

A PDF of the slides from this lecture are available via the download button.

Print of Gethsemane Garden available in print gallery.

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2021 art history lecture series

The story behind The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane sculptures at Trinity Church, Topsfield. Thursday, February 4, 7:00-8:00PM. Free registration.

Photo: Kindra Clineff

Like many residents of Topsfield I have long admired of the Walker Hancock sculptures, The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane located at the entrance to Trinity Church. Until I began researching their history, I did not know the story behind them. What I uncovered is a remarkable story of their creation and the three men whose dedication to art, religious tolerance, and civil rights made them possible.
During this lecture, I will share this story of the patron, William Appleton Coolidge; the sculptor, Walker Hancock, and the Episcopal Seminarian and martyr of the Civil Rights Movement, Jonathon Daniels, to whom the sculptures are dedicated. Registration is limited to 100 people, so register soon.
Register for the lecture on the library website.

Highlights from the Topsfield Library Art Collection. Thursday, February 11, 7:00-8:00PM

Some of the examples from the library collection.

The Topsfield Town Library is home to an impressive collection of art from traditional oil paintings to contemporary sculpture. In this one hour lecture, we will learn about just a few of the highlights from this distinguished collection. Register for this free lecture on the library website.

The connection between cotton, slavery, and handmade paper.

As a papermaker who uses cotton linters in my artwork, I need to address a topic that is often overlooked in our community. That topic concerns the historical connection between slavery in America, cotton production, and the design of the cotton gin itself. The intersection of cotton, slavery, and art (paper, canvas, cloth) is indeed troubling.  This connection continues to be an area of concern for those of us using cotton materials and the migrant workers who harvest the cotton and manufacture it for commercial purposes.

One fact concerns the design of the Cotton Gin itself, the famous invention by Eli Whitney. According to historical researcher Eric Schultz, whose book Innovation on Tap mentions this connection, Whitney’s design is taken directly from the Hollander Beater. 

A modern Hollander Beater. Note the wheel with spikes. This is what grinds the cotton fiber into pulp.
The machine Invented by Eli Whitney, quickly separates the cotton fibers from their seeds, enabling greater productivity than manual cotton separation, vintage line drawing or engraving illustration. Note the similarities between the wheel shown here and above in the beater.

Once the cotton gin became available, allowing for faster production and marketing of cotton, the excuse to support slavery became even more widespread and the enslavement of African people grew as a result.  This history is well documented in the 1619 project.  See episode two, The Economy that Slavery Built.


Listen to ‘1619,’ a Podcast From The New York Times“1619” is a New York Times audio series, hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones, that examines the long shadow of American slavery. Listen to the episodes below, or read the transcripts by clicking the …www.nytimes.com

Meg Black is the featured artist in Helen Hiebert’s The Sunday Paper

Helen Hiebert is recognized as an expert in the papermaking community-from her knowledge of properties of various pulps to sewing and binding techniques for handmade paper books, Helen is a vital presence in educating papermakers around the world. Given her recognized expertise, I was honored that she asked me to be featured in her blog.

Helen shared my recent commission, Seafoam, which I created for a corporate space in 2018, as the featured image for the blog-good choice, Helen, its one of my all time favorites.

Seafoam, 2018. Corporate commission. Photo: David Margolis

Here is the text from Helen’s blog:

Meg Black is an artist who has earned an MFA and Ph.D. in art history. The subject of her work-both as a researcher and a visual artist-is the study of nature and its impact on our sensory experiences. Black creates her work with pulp – largely cotton and well beaten abaca – for two reasons: (1) this material has not been widely used as a painting media, thus she is constantly discovering its potential and is challenged by its capacities which allow her to be a pioneer in this process; and (2) the texture of this media provides an almost three-dimensional quality to the finished surface, thus mimicking nature in all its splendor. Black’s unique process and careful attention to craftsmanship provide a seductive, textured surface that lends itself to the natural subject matter of her work. In 2014, Black was the recipient of a 1% for art grant awarded to her for her installation of six large pulp paintings featuring the white birch, the state tree of New Hampshire. Other examples of her pulp paintings are in hospitals, corporate offices, private collections, and town halls and libraries throughout the United States.

Thank you Helen for featureing my work on your blog. I have been following Helen’s blog for years-so happy to have my own feature and am enjoying my 15 minutes of fame with Helen’s readers.

Small Works Gallery Fundraiser raises 340.00 for the Boston Food Bank.

I can’t thank everyone enough for your generous support of my small works gallery fundraiser. Together, we raised 340.00 for the Boston Food Bank. 
If you would still like to contribute to the food bank and save 20%, the promotional code Boston Food Bank is active on the small works gallery until December 31. 50% of sales will go to support the food bank. Free shipping on all purchases.
Thank you again for your supporting Meg Black Studios, and in turn, the Greater Boston Food Bank. 
May you enjoy your holiday season in peace and serenity.
And as always, thank you for your support. 

Stormy Seas, 8 x 6, 45.00.
August Fire, 8 x 6, 45.00.
Sea stripes, 8 x 6 inches, 45.00.

Making progress on a large scale garden painting.

A visit to this Private Collector’s Beach Themed Living Room

My commissioned painting installed in a private collector’s home.

Once a piece leaves my studio, I rarely get to see it in its forever space, in this case the living room of a private collector. I love the way the collector worked the decor around the painting-from the periwinkle blue walls to the throw pillows and glass ornaments. The grand piano with nautical art completes the feel of a home by the sea-and the love these collectors have for the ocean.

Contact me if you would like to discuss a commissioned painting for your private space. Or, visit my original art gallery for a painting that might work for your favorite space.

Meg Black featured on Helen Hiebert Paper Talk podcast

Meg Black