Artist Announcement: Jenny McGee Dougherty

We're very excited to announce that Jenny McGee Dougherty is one of our confirmed 2015 artists. 

Jenny McGee Dougherty is an artist living and working in Portland, Maine. She graduated with a BFA in printmaking from Maine College of Art in 2005 and has since been teaching youth arts, traveling, and working in her studio experimenting with painting and textiles. She has been the Associate Director of SPACE Gallery, a non-profit contemporary arts venue in Portland, Maine, since 2010.  

Here is an interview that we conducted with Jenny:


What is your name and where are you from?

Jenny McGee Dougherty. I'm from West Newbury, Massachusetts.

What did you want to be growing up?

Is it cheesy to say an artist? it's the truth!

Describe your work/practice in the format of an elevator speech...

My Practice is very experimental. Every day is spent storing up a well of inspiration and ideas in my brain until I have the chance to get them out on paper- which is my primary medium. I have been painting with gouache and using collage to translate ideas that stem from the intersection of man and nature- I'm interested in how our our collective landscape is shaped through repetitive actions, large and small, and what begins to look like as a result. I am also deeply influenced by textile language, specifically weaving. I see these two investigative realms colliding in both conceptual and formal manners, and this has been the focus of my practice for the past several years.

Can you identify 3 or 4 artists or art movements from art history that you feel have paved the way for your work today?

My work is clearly influenced by Bauhaus textiles and the artists who made them. I can relate to the experimental nature of this work- as well as the spirit of the artist of Black Mountain College. I guess you could say that I relate to these 'schools' of thought in a lifestyle sense, but also aesthetically. I don't think that the work I am making is entirely new- it's just that I'm coming to it on my own terms. Often I will come across a work of an artist from a 100 years ago and it looks exactly like something I just made, but I had never seen it before. This happened recently with a work by Swiss artist Sophie Tauber-Arp, as well as with a Kazimir Malevich piece from 1915. So, it is safe to say that I am also greatly influenced by geometric abstraction and abstraction in general.

What is inspiring your work right now?

I'm inspired by the intersection of daily life and artistic practices. I'm paying a lot of attention to craft and the use and facility of objects in our lives. But, moreover, I'm inspired by artists who are pushing the expectations of these crafts and providing new contexts for understanding the role of craft in the art world. 

What kind of environment do you like to create in? If you listen to music when you work, what's been in rotation recently?

I usually work best in my studio, which is currently a corner in my tiny home, and will soon be a whole room (!) in my new home. I need to have background noise- usually podcasts or music. I've been listening to a lot of Cambodian Pysch and a podcast called The Longest Shortest Time, which is about parenthood (I have a 9 month old baby). 

Have there been an murals that have had a profound impact on you?

I wouldn't necessarily call it a straight mural, but when Swoon and friends were in town back in 2009 and did a huge installation at SPACE Gallery, I helped them cut, paint, sew and install it, and I will always be inspired by their commitment, drive and vision. The way they incorporated discarded objects with wall painting and created something that consumed the gallery was truly visionary. 

How long have you lived in Maine?

I went to Meca from 2001-2005, moved to Oakland, CA and came back in 2008. So, a total of 11 years.  

What do you like about the art scene here?

I like that people are really supportive of one another's work. It's easy to make an impact, while experimenting with new ideas. 

what would you like to see happening in Portland's art scene in the future?

I'd really like to see some small, experimental galleries open up. We don't have a lot of venues for small projects that are weird or experimental. I'd also like to see more collaboration. With this city's size, it is totally possible to work on city-wide projects that can have a big impact.

What's next for you? Any upcoming shows or projects that you would like to mention?

For the moment I'm working on building a new body of work. I've been in transition for the last year or so, so with my new studio space I'm looking to work on some new ideas. I'll be creating some textile based paintings and I plan on revisiting ceramics as a medium to explore pattern and dimensionality. 

Check out more of Jenny's work on her website here