Artist of the Week: Maddy Cowan

Views 29 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 3 - 19 - 2019 | By: Phebe Chang

A lover of painting hands and a storyteller of everyday people, Maddy Cowan is a senior art major who has a passion for art and its ability to express a concept through visual products. Cowan has been recently working on her senior project which consists of twelve 18 x 24 oil paintings that represent people of a certain demographic who are underrepresented. Cowan focuses on “... people who go unnoticed… they typically have the best stories.” Using her medium of oil paints splashed across her canvas, she wanted to “stay away from a conventional portrait” and “wanted something that was candid and real and relatable.” Her main focus in doing this project is to capture a moment of real humanity. “I’m trying to capture abstract moments of a person because we’re not perfect; we’re abstract.”
Cowan originally came to Westmont as a history major with the intention to go into skeletal reconstruction for archeology, much like character from the show, Bones. “I wanted to be Angela.” However, under the guidance of Professor Nathan Huff, who happened to be her minor advisor, Cowan changed her mind and declared as an art major. “I didn’t think that there was a future in art; I didn’t want to have anything to do with art and now it’s all I can do.”
“I am from Bakersfield so I want to go home, which is kind of funny because most people from the Central Valley want nothing to do with their home.” With a passion that burns as brightly and flourishes with the support of the Santa Barbara artist community, Cowan hopes to bring that same movement back to her home in Bakersfield. “There’s a huge underground of artists back home who don’t really show their work…” In the end, Cowan says “I want to keep doing art; I will keep painting and keep creating and mentoring high school students.” In the next five years, she hopes to create artistic facilities in the improving downtown area of her town, which recently got its second non-Starbucks coffeehouse and is taking the first steps to be more open to the artistic community.
Laughing, Cowan describes her inspiration and her change as an artist through her interactions with people. “It’s funny. I think people can be really intimidating or annoying, but sometimes that’s also the most entertaining part of interacting with the community.” After coming to Westmont, Cowan has seen changes in her openness to people both in her art and herself. “A year ago [my art] was very dark, very minimal in color; it was black basically. There was a very minimal aspect of letting people in. I was really closed off to the viewer. I basically fought the viewer and how people would understand what I was trying to say. And now, my work has progressed in incorporating people, really giving the spotlight to other people and letting the viewer enjoy that…I’m focusing on people and their stories. I want to keep incorporating people in my future work.”


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