Adding Biophelia inspired art to office design ensures a soothing work environment.

Autumn, River Road (2018). Mixed Media painting. Collection: Topsfield Town Hall. Each panel 54 x 26 inches.

Adding nature based art to public spaces such as office lobbies, libraries, hospital waiting areas, and town halls affords a sense of calm and serenity to the built environment. For this example, Autumn, River Road, a large scale painting I created for the Topsfield Town Hall, I placed the painting at the top of the stairs. When visitors to the space walk up the stairs, they feel as though they are walking onto one of the favorite roads in the town, River Road. The idea of extending a 2D space-a flat wall-into a 3D space is a technique first used by the ancient Roman wall painters. Here are in-situ examples of this concept.

Through the seasons (2012). Four panels of a nature pond scene as it appears during different times of the year.
Transitions (2014). Three panels featuring birch trees as they appear in early spring, early autumn, and late November.

Want to add biophelia inspired art to your next project? Contact me for a complimentary proposal.

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.

(https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/23/podcasts/1619-podcast.html

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.

Meg Black featured on Helen Hiebert Paper Talk podcast

Meg Black

My day in Monet’s Garden, Giverny, France.

Claude Monet is famous for painting many subjects: water lilies, cathedral facades, footbridges, and of course, his garden’s at Giverny, France, where he moved to in 1883. Monet did not like organized gardens common in other parts of France such as the Gardens at Versaillies. In Giverny, he arranged flowers according to their colors and left them to grow naturally, more in keeping with the picturesque gardens of England or the Zen Gardens of Japan.
I visited Monet’s gardens with my mother a few years ago-the ultimate mother/daughter field trip, where I walked the path of the great impressionist artist and took inspiration from his famous gardens.
My painting, Monet’s Garden, Giverny was inspired by this famous garden. The trellis and sweeping vines, rows of pink, orange, and peach blooms, topped with a kaleidoscope of greens, captures the essence of this very special place in France, and in the hearts of art lovers everywhere.

The painting in situ. To order the painting, to order a print of the painting.

The worlds first truly modern building, London’s Crystal Palace.

The Chrystal Palace, c. 1874, Sydenham, England

Built in 1851 for the Great Exhibition of London, a precursor of the Centennial Exhibition, held in Philadelphia in 1876, the Chrystal Palace at 1,851 x 800 square feet was 4X the length of St. Peter’s Basilica and almost as high. The cast iron frames, columns and girders produced in a factory and bolted on site were glazed with factory made glass, some of it concave to work with the extraordinary design. The design for the palace was the work of Joseph Paxton (1803-1865), a gardener and landscape architect for the royal residence of Chatsworth House, home to the Duke of Devonshire. Paxton had designed a photo-type of a greenhouse many years earlier to ensure the wintering over of the duke’s favorite violets and orchids. Paxton’s idea came to the attention of Prince Albert, who was charged with overseeing the Great Exhibition. Envisioning the simple greenhouse design on a grand scale-Albert was keen to share the benefits of Britain’s place within the industrial revolution to the worlds-the design for the Chrystal Palace took shape.

At the urging of Prince Albert, the palace was built in record time. According to John Pile (History of Interior Design, 2014):

Various architects presented schemes too elaborate, too expensive, or otherwise impractical. It was reported that a chief gardener (really an estate manager) for the great estate of Chatsworth, Joseph Paxton (1803–65), had constructed a conservatory for tropical plants—a greenhouse—all of iron and glass. A meeting was arranged where Paxton proposed to Prince Albert a vast greenhouse of similar construction for the exhibition. Despite uncertainties and protests, Paxton’s proposal was finally accepted and constructed with the aid of the engineering firm of Fox and Henderson (p. 246-247).

The Crystal Palace with all its Victorian era offerings on display.
The smoldering ruins of the structure after the fire of 1936.

What was perhaps most striking about the Chrystal Palace was the disconnect between the modern structure and the offerings within-a frosting of overstuffed and overly ornate Victorian decoration from tassel laden pillows, heavy vegetable dyed throw rugs, and piano’s hardly recognizable under the weight of an overture of veneer carving.

Sadly the palace met its fate in 1936 when fire broke out and gutted the structure. Dispute this loss, the concept for a glass and steel structure has become ubiquitous in modern architecture, as seen in Cesar Pelli’s World Financial Center’s Winter Garden in lower Manhattan, not far from the World Trade Center (it largely survived the 9/11 attack).

The atrium at the World Financial Center’s Winter Garden, NYC, by Cesar Pelli 

The 1988 World Financial Center, now known as Brookfield Place, consists of four towers, two octagonal buildings, the Winter Garden public atrium, a plaza, and a marina. Located in New York’s Battery Park City neighborhood, the complex was recently renovated by Pelli and son Rafael, who is a partner in Pelli Clarke Pelli. Cesar Pelli, the 20xx winner of the Pritzker Prize, died in 2019.

I hope you enjoyed reading a bit of history about the Chrystal Palace. Join my blog for more quick insights into the history of art and architecture.

Using over-beaten abaca to my seascape painting of the Cape Ann coastline.

The finished painting. Cape Ann Shoreline, 2020. Mixed media painting.

Last summer I received a call from the U.S. State Department Art in Embassies program director.The U.S. Ambassador to Belgrade would like to have an exhibition of American seascape artists for the embassy residence for the year 2021. The Art in Embassy staff shared my website with the Ambassador. He read my blog posts about the painting Cape Ann Shoreline and requested it for the exhibit.


I cannot tell you how honored I am to be included in an exhibit that celebratesAmerican seascape artists to diplomats, foreign officials and visitors to the embassy from all corners of the world.

Me in front of my painting Cape Ann Shoreline, (2020). 40 x 40 x 4 inches. Mixed media (abaca and cotton pulp, pigment, acrylic paint, mounted on Gator Board).

If you are working from home, why not purchase art in your home office design?

According to the researchers at Stanford University (so you know they must be right) the work from home economy is here to stay. Given these statistics, why not include the purchase of art in your home office design (ok, dining room table, spare bedroom, former man cave)?
I’ve included several samples of available art to imagine just how jazzed your space can look. I have more on my original works gallery, and print gallery.


There is a two week free trial period to test out a piece in your space-sort of like what those fancy rug companies do-so there is no up front cost to consider. Payment plans are available for larger pieces. Send me an email if you’d like to try out one of the works featured, and as always, take care and be well.


Thank you for your support.
Meg

https://megblack.com/galleries/rocks-and-water-as-portrait-of-lifes-journey/
Hever Castle Courtyard, Sussex, England. Framed. 48 x 39 inches.
June Morning Light, in-situ
Distant Travels, Cape Cod National Seashore

Follow me as I paint the sea: an explanation of the medium I use.

The painting as of August, 7, 2020.

At first glance, my paintings appear to be oil on canvas or similar. It is upon closer inspection that viewers observe the textured surface of the work. In fact, the most common comment I receive is “I love the texture of your work-it is so engaging. It’s like I’m actually there. Just what is the medium?” The medium I use is abaca, an extremely strong fiber from the inner bark of the banana tree and is used for marine cordage and sails for sailing vessels.

In the 16th century, Venetian artists-Venice at the time was a powerful seafaring nation state-began using the canvases of sailing vessels as surfaces to apply their paints. These canvases were made from durable fibers such as linen, flax and abaca.  It is for this reason that these now famous works have survived to us through the ages. 

Using these same fibers, I have embellished on this idea and created an actual painting method that is just as durable and permanent, and pigmented with light-fast colors to match the rich hues of nature.

My process provides a textured, almost three-dimensional quality to the painting’s surface, thus mimicking nature in all its splendor . . . from its rocky crevices along the ocean shoreline, subtle shadows in a garden path, the fullness and detail of a treed landscape, and the smooth surface of a still lake.  

Natural fibers, beaten into thick coats of pigmented pulp, provides the perfect media with which to create these modern interpretations of representational art.  

painting detail showing texture.

Follow me as I paint the rocky shores of New England

Last month I shared the beginnings of this seascape painting, inspired by the rocky Cape Ann seacoast, a beautiful stretch of beach just north of Boston. As of today, this is how the still in-progress painting appears. I anticipate it will be completed by mid August, so keep following me as I continue to feature it in upcoming blog posts.


I have been posting daily updates on its progress-a few photos are enclosed below (I know, why didn’t I quit after June 25)? One of my favorite things about sharing my progress are the questions I get from followers on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook:How do you do this?What materials do you use?Are you kidding me, you “paint” with a turkey baster?Shut up! You’re just copying over a photograph (the sculptor Rodin suffered a similar fate, so I figure I’m in good company here). 


For the next few weeks, I will share my painting process on Instagram Live, for everyone who wants to learn more about how I paint with pulp.
And don’t forget, this painting will be featured in a Podcast hosted by Helen Heibart to a world-wide audience. My fifteen minutes are here at last!!
For updates on Instagram Live sessions, follow me at https://www.instagram.com/megblackstudios/

The painting on July, 3, 2020 . . .
. . . and June 25, 2020.
I have been painting the north shore of Boston for years. Here are samples of my other paintings, available as originals and giclee prints.
Northshore Scape I (above)
Resilience

For all of my original works and giclee prints, visit my gallery.

Sincerely,

Meg