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Eden McDowell

Eden McDowell

I just love Eden McDowell's installation-based sculptures, which become environmental in their use of space, and touch on concepts of domesticity, memories and personal stories. She is currently finishing up a BFA at Maine College of Art.

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So, you're currently pursuing your BFA at Maine College of Art in Portland, ME. Tell me about yourself! Where are you from originally, and what prompted you to look into that college?

Well, I'm originally from Mystic, CT, a small seaside town where you can basically drive through downtown in one deep breath. Maine College of Art was my first choice because as a home-schooler, it comforted me in its size and community. Coming from a close-knit area, I loved the idea of being nestled in the heart of the Portland Arts District. The school is all located inside a five-story building that used to once be Portland's first department store, which I was immediately struck by!

What first interested you in making art? What about sculpture, or installation, specifically?

To be quite honest, it's in my blood. Both of my parents are artists— my dad, a freelance painter and printmaking professor and my mother, a paper conservator and watercolorist. My great uncle was also a sculptor in New York City for most of his life. I feel like I take after him the most... and then, my sophomore year in college I took a sculpture class called Color, Form, and Space and I fell in love with converting spaces into dynamic, color-filled installations. 

What inspires you?

I am most inspired by my family, my memories, and the stories of others. I feel the need to translate these narratives through my sculptural assemblages in order to give overlooked and forgotten stories a chance.  

Much of your work includes found or manipulated objects; how do you find your materials? Do you have a particularly favorite type of object or medium to work with right now?

My favorite places to shop for materials are probably my local Home Depot and this warehouse called Restore, a Habitat for Humanity surplus store. Every time I'm at a loss for materials, I literally wander around Home Depot and make modular sculptures in their aisles. I am currently very interested in simulating and recreating industrial and domestic objects in means of dissecting their purpose, truthfulness, and functionality. 

Can you describe what you're process is like? How do you get started? How do you know when a piece is finished?

I often start my installations by circulating and obsessing over a narrative of sorts. Whether the story has happened personally to me, or I overheard it on the sidewalk, I attempt to recreate the scenario by picking and choosing major elements out the narrative and maybe even warping certain objects I can't quite remember. I treat each installation like a composition. I know when a piece is finished when the narrative is complete, and every crevice has been considered. 

Do you have a studio space at Maine College of Art? Or what is your studio/workspace like?

As a senior at MECA I have a studio space in the communal Sculpture Majors studios. I always laugh because they are kind of like cubicles for artists, but in all honestly we are very privileged to have so much space to store and build pieces without getting in the way of other students. 

What has been the most important lesson or piece of advice you've received so far?

Best advice I've received thus far: Never stop making art. Even in times of frustration or criticism, I feel it is so important to contribute towards your art. Whether it's through journaling, sketching, or research, I will never stop making. 

What do you find most challenging or daunting about pursuing art?

There are certainly financial limitations as an artist, but I try not to let that stop me. I learn to enjoy the challenges I am given, because often times the compromises I make end in much greater results. 

What is the most rewarding aspect of doing what you do?

The most rewarding aspect to my work is getting the opportunity to retell and share hidden narratives with my audience. Whether or not it translates directly, I am providing a scape in which people can reflect and make connections of their own, which always makes me feel great. 

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects you're working on?

I am participating in a group show at a collective based gallery called the Gal-lery in New Hampshire in January, but as of now I am working towards my Senior Thesis Show and preparing my practice for future residencies/opportunities. 

Anything else you would like to add?

Feel free to follow my Instagram @edenmcdowell or my website for a link to my studio practice blog and more info at edenmcdowellstudio.com.

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