Margaret Ann Withers

New York
New York


Woman dressed in regular clothing wearing google positioned on a chair beneath a seascape painting so that it looks like she's swimming below the image

Artist Margaret Ann Withers at Vermont Studio Center Residency. Photo by Margaret Ann Withers, 2015

One day I was an old woman spooning out gruel for my five kids; or I was a hobo riding the rails; a cosmopolitan woman living in my studio apartment in a big city or a witch casting spells.

I discovered early in my life how to transform my awkward lonely existence into whatever I wanted to be by the power of a creative personal narrative.

I think we all carry remnants of an historical imagination within us from our childhood. I like to think of it as a way of owning our child-selves at play. Tapping into that can be inspirational.

When I first saw a Kandinsky painting I saw how a master artist could use painting to communicate narrative emotions that would urge the viewer to turn away from daily complacency. Since then I’ve strived to make paintings that use abstract images and icons from the external world in a type of fantasy landscape in order to address time and place in the unfolding of a personal narrative. Rooted in storytelling, I’ve come to see life as layered stories that fold together to make up my identity. This constantly changing personal narrative has a way of running ahead of the past by existing in the immediacy of what is being exposed - right now - as I grasps the story. It’s this unfolding of time and space that I’m interested in painting. It’s the flash of a visible narrative that I hope causes a story in the mind of viewer.

We all tell ourselves stories, if anything, just to define ourselves, and art can be instrumental in re-shaping who we are by changing or adding to our personal narrative. Society greatly underestimates the power of art – it’s a sleeping giant in this regard.