Inside the Artist’s Studio: Paula McDermott
By Derrick White
“Art has given me an outlet to express myself. Art has the ability to really help you work through your issues and ideas both good and bad. Teaching art at TJC has been amazing. The TJC art department is so vibrant and supportive, it breeds creativity. I love teaching. We have such a diverse student body, they are like a breath of fresh air, I learn something new from them every day and I hope they learn from me.”
A positive energy or vibe is one the most important assets in the art department at Tyler Junior College and our newest full-time professor is a firework! Artist Paula McDermott joins the faculty teaching drawing and art appreciation bringing her amazing passion and excitement for art, life, microbiology, and the creative process. Paula earned both her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Texas at Tyler. She had also attended Stephen F. Austin State University and Sam Houston State University where she says she had great experiences which were very influential. Paula is a lively, spirited, and engaged professor taking a personal interest in the lives of her students and teaching as well as mentoring beyond the classroom. McDermott involves her students in outdoor collaborative projects and demonstrations to students how to look and appreciate past the ordinary to the aesthetics of the natural world and the often overlooked beauty in all of the small things surrounding us everywhere every day. On a beautiful spring day you will find her with her group of students somewhere on the incredible campus of TJC designing Andy Goldsworthy (environmental sculptor) outdoor nature mandalas (circles in geometric patterns symbolically representing the order of the universe). These brief, temporary art pieces will be created with natural materials like leaves, flowers, salt, rocks, and sticks and become nice unexpected surprises for those visitors lucky enough to stumble upon one of the creations. They diminish, fade, and change over time so it is a transient experience, fleeting.
“I work with whatever materials I can find. I am currently working with fibers. I am using different types of found objects and fabrics. I am dying, sewing, stuffing, tying, and binding individual pieces for components of wearable, wall pieces and installations. I am also creating mixed media collage pieces,” states the artist. Paula continues, “I really got interested in art as a young child. My Grandmother was a painter and my mother incorporated a lot of art in her science classroom and at home. She got me interested in sea life and microscopic organisms we would see through the microscope, this still interests and influences me today. I think a lot about the unseen or things hard to see, things really controlling our bodies and our world, things we as humans do not often acknowledge like the microscopic world around us, like plankton, phytoplankton, bacteria and some fungi. We don’t often think about it but different types of phytoplankton really help sustain all life on earth, they produce 50% of earth’s oxygen supply. Even our internal organs and cells are not often seen but we could not live without all of them working together.”
Paula McDermott’s artwork looks natural, organic, and like something inspired by the microscopic. Big soft forms mimic an altered and blown up scale of a cellular world we do not see and often take for granted. “I am really into the way things can naturally grow, change, transform, cover and disguise. Like dividing cells, colonies of coral, or the harmful, symbiotic relationships barnacles have with whales or a remora with sharks or manta rays, these relationships can be both harmful and beneficial,” says Paula, adding, “This is where my wearable work has come in. The wearable sculpture can serve as a soft barrier or shield for the wearer, they offer a personal space but in a soft way. They can disguise and take away identity; they can give protection from unwanted attention for the introvert. They both attract and repel the viewer. Most of my work can be either worn or hung.”
Although soft sculpture is largely underrepresented in mainstream art markets and exhibitions, Paula has many influences in the art world. (Writer’s note: please take the time to look up some of these people. You will be glad you did.) Some of Paula McDermott’s inspirations and favorite artists are Nick Cave (American fabric sculptor, dancer, and performance artist), Tara Donavan (New York artist known for site-specific installation art utilizing everyday materials), Alexander Calder (American sculptor of delicately balanced or suspended shapes that move in response to touch or air currents), Susie MacMurray (British artist whose work includes drawing, sculpture and site-generated installations), Ernesto Neto (influential, contemporary Brazilian artist creating large-scale, sensuous environments evoking bodily experiences), Sally Hewett (British stitching artist making works characteristics of human bodies), Yayoi Kusama (Japanese, contemporary artist primarily working in sculpture and installation), Anthony Howe (American sculptor who creates wind-driven sculptures resembling pulsing, alien creatures), Jason decaires Taylor (British sculptor and creator of the world’s first underwater sculpture park), Andy Goldsworthy (British sculptor and environmentalist creating site-specific sculpture and land art), Eva Hesse (Jewish German-born American sculptor, known for pioneering work in materials such as latex, fiberglass, and plastics), and Eugenia Loli (Greek filmmaker, illustrator, and modern vintage collage artist). Paula responds to this list of artist because they all have dedicated themselves, their work and lives and created something igniting a light inside Paula McDermott and we are the beneficiaries. “They all produce artwork that is interactive and in many cases kinetic (movable). Most of their work is somehow related to the human body, whether it is work representing different aspects of the human body, is directly interactive, or work involving performance,” states the artist. Remember you are human. You are organic. You are made up of microbes and whatnot. You’re original, cannot be replaced. And baby…you’re a firework!
Call for Entries: Art of Peace Tyler Visual Art Exhibit
Entries are now being accepted for the “Sowing Seeds of Peace” Visual Art Exhibit as part of the Art of Peace – Tyler celebration, a citywide commemoration of the United Nations International Day of Peace, September 21st.
“Art of Peace – Tyler is happy to once again to partner with the Tyler Museum of Art to invite regional artists to offer their creative responses to the idea of peace and to our 2018 theme, ‘Sowing Seeds of Peace’,” said Anne McCrady, co-founder and co-director of the peace event.
The visual art show will be presented as a juried exhibit in the museum’s education classroom September 16th-23rd, at the Tyler Museum of Art, 1300 S. Mahon Ave, on the Tyler Junior College main campus. The exhibit will be open to the public and admission is free.
The jury for selection will consist of members of the Art of Peace – Tyler committee and TMA representatives. The jury has the option to select up to two works per artist for inclusion in the show. Past exhibits have included the work of artists from Austin, Dallas, Lubbock and the East Texas area.
“We are privileged that the Art of Peace – Tyler committee once again has asked us to be the host venue for this exhibition,” TMA Executive Director Chris Leahy said. “The work we have seen over the past four years of our partnership has grown increasingly more dynamic and accomplished, and we are proud to have the opportunity to participate in such a great community event.”
For more information about Art of Peace – Tyler events, visit tylerpeace.com. For questions about the art exhibition, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, September 23rd, there will be an Artist reception at 3pm.
David Bates: Works from Texas Collections on Exhibit
The Tyler Museum of Art (TMA) is located at 1300 S. Mahon Ave. on the Tyler Junior College main campus. Regular TMA hours are 10am-5pm Tuesday-Saturday, and 1-5pm Sunday. The Museum is closed Mondays and most major holidays. The Museum is supported by its members, Tyler Junior College, and the City of Tyler. For more info call the museum at (903)595-1001, tylermuseum.org, or email email@example.com.
David Bates, one of the most acclaimed artists in Dallas, is the focus of Tyler Museum of Art’s summer exhibition, “David Bates: Selected Works from Texas Collections” on view through September 9th.
Curated by the museum’s Caleb Bell, the exhibition features close to 30 works surveying the prolific career of Bates, one of the most versatile and widely collected contemporary Texas artists. Spanning art from 1982 to 2016 works in the show highlight several of Bates’ most celebrated series and include a wide array of media: oil painting, lithographs, woodcuts, screenprints and bronze sculpture. The show was assembled from art in public and private collections throughout the state, including the museum’s own permanent collection. Bates’ work is widely exhibited and included in several museum and corporate art collections.
Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for seniors. Museum members, students, TJC faculty/staff and city of Tyler employees are admitted free. Support for exhibit is provided by The Byars Foundation.
Free admission, interactive art projects, light snacks and a festive atmosphere for all ages are on the menu from 2-4pm the second Saturday of each month with the Tyler Museum of Art’s Family Day. This popular program focuses on fostering a deeper understanding of the Museum’s spotlight exhibitions – and, above all, having fun! To RSVP for groups of 10 or more, please call (903)595-1001 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first Friday of each month, the TMA offers a full day of free admission plus guided tours of its spotlight exhibitions at 11am. From contemporary Texas art to Hudson River School to Andy Warhol, each tour is unique.
Inside the Artist’s Studio: Dedicated Young Warriors
The Art and Illustrations of Micah Lewis
By Derrick White
“I continually push myself to try a new medium or style, or just simply work harder with what I’ve got. I’ve grown to love studies in my sketchbooks and understand the importance of slowing down for a bit and working out the kinks or just wrapping my mind around how to draw something,” states local artist Micah Lewis. In my career as an art professor at TJC, I work with many students who aspire to become professional artists. After decades of instructing, I have found the most important qualities in making the dream of living as a professional artist come true are dedication and perseverance. Those who are truly dedicated to their art and process will succeed and they persist through all setbacks.
Micah Lewis is one such devoted artist living and working from the red brick streets in downtown Tyler. My first introduction to Micah was through a Facebook page coordinating Free Art Fridays encouraging participants to place or seek hidden art in downtown Tyler and beyond. We have connected through social media, and I have had the pleasure of meeting her in real life at local establishments. Through her posts and comments one can conclude she is a fun, determined, dedicated, persistent and successful artist. In addition to being a professional artist, Micah is also a committed wife and mother. Her web site describes Micah as, “a self-taught artist who finds beauty in all of God’s creation, particularly in people… and coffee. Having a heart for creativity from a young age, she draws inspiration from tattoo art, comic books, or old Godzilla movies. Additionally, she has a peculiar knack for portraits where she can capture the natural emotion present in each subject.”
“My formal training was limited to half a semester of art during my sophomore year of high school. Somehow, I ended up in a class full of students just attempting to fill a credit. It was a disruptive environment in which the other students regularly sabotaged my projects. So, my path has been one of self-learning with trial and error,” says Lewis. Micah’s art is influenced by comic book art and executed through her unique surrealist lens. She considers her style of art lowbrow and also enjoys painting watercolor portraits. She states, “Four years ago, if someone told me I would love watercolor and use it almost daily, I would not have believed it. I used to loathe watercolor. It didn’t seem like there was a lot of control. It just wasn’t as smooth as I like. When I revisited the concept after a few years I fell in love. I really and truly enjoy creating with watercolor. In achieving a variety of line weights, I use a Pentel pocket brush pen (typically used for calligraphy). I love the contrast inking gives my pieces. It pulls the soft washes together with bolder, inconsistent lines.”
Like many artists, Micah can trace her inspiration back to childhood. “It’s difficult to pinpoint. The earliest drawings I recall were on the inside cover of the coloring books my sisters and I had. Coloring a picture felt like more of a chore to me. So, I just drew my own pictures on the blank inner covers. Sorry, Lisa Frank! When I got a bit older, I kept a sketchbook. It just became a part of who I am. It is shocking to me I became a professional artist. It still baffles me. I remember telling people I wanted to be an artist when I grew up as early as first grade, and maybe I was just too stubborn to not make it happen,” states the artist.
For Micah, dedication and perseverance in her art means growth. She explains, “I can always learn, study, and work towards improvement. Finding a voice is difficult; especially given the understanding your audience may never quite comprehend the images in your mind and the emotions accompanying those images. I think it is pretty easy to pander to your audience with the pressure for success but creating, for me, was never meant to be superficial. The intent of art is communication, and communication on a deep level of who we are and the emotions driving us as people. Art should be a connection, but not a cheap one. I still have to remind myself of this from time to time and just strive to be authentic.”
Micah Lewis finds inspiration in the work of other artists, citing one of her favorites is Berlinde de Bruyckere (a Belgian contemporary artist sculpting unsettling forms in various media including wax, wood, wool, horse skin and hair. She also works in watercolor). “I hope one day I have the opportunity to meet her or just experience one of her installations in person. Her ability to sculpt with wax, wood, and natural fibers is pure wizardry and you’ll never convince me otherwise. I have a copy of her book, “In the Woods There Were Chainsaws.” The pages are yellowed and warped and the spine has a gash in it, but it’s only because I’ve loved it so dang much. I draw so much inspiration from her dedication to detail,” exclaims Lewis.
Micah’s life and art career are very busy with multiple upcoming projects. “This summer, I will be working on a few murals around Tyler, one for Strada Caffè and I am also working on a few murals at True Vine Brewing Company in their new location (2453 Earl Campbell Pkwy) and later this year, I’m excited to curate my first show for The Foundry Coffee House in downtown Tyler. Submissions will start in November and the show will open in January. I’m excited to meet new artists and take on this new role. Interested artists should follow the Foundry Coffee House’s Facebook page for more information as it becomes available. Locally, you can find Micah’s original artworks and prints available for purchase at El Guapo Records, Strada Caffè, The Foundry, and Moss just to name a few local love friendly places.
You can follow the art, projects and progress of Micah Lewis at:
Commission or collaboration requests can be filled out via the contact form on Micah Lewis’ web site. I recommend you commit yourself to looking through and purchasing some of these dedicated young warrior’s creations for your very own.
EGuide Magazine’s Gig Guide
Make a Splash This Summer at The Waterpark at The Villages Resort
Blue Moon Gardens: More Than a Family Nursery
Fall Fun in East Texas: Fall Festival Guide 2018
Off Road Biking: Hitting the Local Trails
It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over
August 18th Lance Lopez Live @ XL’N Pool Hall & Club
August 18th: A Rock ‘n Roll Summer of CESSE Fun
Amy Holden Concert Benefiting Children’s Miracle Network, Aug. 24th
East Texas State Fair Returns Sept. 21st-30th!
Connect With Us!
Free Stuff To Do
Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Story Times
Upcoming East Texas Festivals for 2018
2018 Festivals East Texas is a great place for all kinds of festivals – from family fun to wine festivals,...
Teen Mentors needed at Tyler Library!
The Tyler Public Library is seeking volunteers aged 12 to 17 for its “Read with a Teen” program. Teen mentors...
Dory’s Garden: Inspiration Awaits Beyond the Lavender Gate…Literally!
By Barbara King It’s literally a cornucopia for the gardener’s imagination, and it’s right off the Brick Streets of Tyler....
UT Tyler Graduate Student Exhibits Feature Steel, Wood Creations
The University of Texas at Tyler Department of Art and Art History is proud to announce three exhibitions featuring three-dimensional...