Meghan Burke McGrath is best known for her large scale, colorful paintings on paper that express the search for memory. The paintings take on a woodblock, print-like appearance with two inch white borders and layering images. Portraits and architectural imagery are juxtaposed to transcend the literal and capture the complexity of memory. Rather than nostalgia, memory serves as a visual history. The portraits become metaphors for maps describing time, place and linear movement. McGrath developed her interest in painting on paper during her graduate years at Colorado State University. For an independent study in printmaking, she made large scale prints of overlapping photos. These works were pivotal to her artistic path, and eventually led her away from working with oil on canvas to acrylic on paper. Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, McGrath grew up taking classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. It was there she began to discover self expression through visual arts. She studied art at Northern Arizona University, earning a BFA in Painting and BS in Art Education. She completed her academic education with a MFA from Colorado State University in 2009.

Mediums: Mixed-media, painting, drawing, sculpture using plaster/found objects
Favorite Artist Tool: Paper
Go-to Local Inspiration: Our community here at MARN and our local galleries – I love seeing what my peers are creating and feel so inspired to be a part of this community
Mentor Compliment: Amy has a calm but powerful presence. Her view on mediums and how she articulates her work has opened my eyes to new ways of communicating my own process.
Fun Fact: I have a meditative ritual when I enter my studio: I turn on the heat, light my favorite incense, and put on the same shirt, pants, and shoes that I have worn for about 15 years.
Serious Fact: I love food, and I love to cook. When eating one meal, I cannot help but think about what I am going to eat next. I approach cooking like I approach my artwork. I think about flavor combinations, the story, and plating. And sometimes it works out.

Artist Statement

Motherhood is often romanticized, when in reality it is a varied experience. My feelings of inadequacy are a daily reminder of this. The ultimate form of creation is the attachment of caring for a child inside you and then expelling them from your body. The act of keeping them alive, bonding with them, and having them lay limp in your arms is surrounded by the anxiety of “am I enjoying this?”

Imperfect plaster and cheesecloth busts were cast from mothers’ bodies to focus on the complex realities instead of the idealized ones we think others want to see. The rough sculptures and graffitied photographs of my children push past one-dimensional thinking, and present a new and authentic understanding of motherhood while expressing my experience with pregnancy and postpartum.

My children have figuratively found their way into my studio, and my growing relationship with them has evolved by comparing that love to my mother’s maternal affection.