There is a disruptive beauty when someone is deeply passionate about something. Disruptive because it halts you, makes you lean forward and listen carefully, nudges you to examine your own life to see if you care about anything that much.
Maeve Jackson (www.maevejackson.com) has this type of passion about art. Ask her about videography or photography and she will talk with barely a breath, ideas flowing into each other and then swooping back out again in ever-widening arcs. A Milwaukee-born artist who works out of a studio called Pitch Project on 5th and National, her work primarily explores the role of women changing overtime. Maeve is leaving in a few days for Algoma, a small town on the lakeshore just outside Door County, to show her piece called “Art of Water” at the James May gallery. It’s an ongoing series she’s been working on for three years, and it involves video of water and the idea of the Superior Woman. She will be showing parts 1 and 2 and filming part 3 while in Algoma for the monthlong show, and she says that as she prepares to shoot part 3, she dreams of water.
As a local, Maeve doesn’t come to the Pfister much except to meet with friends from out of town. She is at the Pfister today because of her admiration for the new Artist in Residence, Margaret Muza. Maeve has been an avid follower of Margaret’s tintype photographs on social media and when she heard that Margaret had been named the newest Artist in Residence, she excitedly came to see her studio in the Pfister firsthand. She hopes to pose for Ms. Muza herself, excitedly pointing out the fellow artists and personal friends she recognizes amongst the tintype portraits on the studio walls.
Maeve is in awe of the way Margaret is able to work in her Pfister studio here, this “fishbowl situation” that allows the artist and the subject to both enter into the work as part of it. She extols the physicality of the tintype process and how it allows for a unique way of engaging with Pfister guests. She explains to me that in other mediums, the subject will usually walk away without immediately knowing what the end product looks like, while in tintype portraits they experience a “more rewarding, more meaningful” interaction with the artist that results in an immediate piece.
She is also drawn to Margaret’s work because of the “vortex to the past” her pieces create, and the remarkable way Margaret has revived an antique process. Maeve draws my attention to how each portrait we can see hanging in the studio is crafted, how the subjects’ vulnerable eyes and frank expressions demonstrate that Margaret is having a conversation with them.
This creating of moments and of exploring the past’s inextricable bonds to the present makes Maeve feel that her work has a lot in common with Margaret’s. Maeve tells me that she’s considered applying for the Artist in Residence position for years but has always been too timid and self-conscious, helping other artist friends with their applications but never actually submitting her own. But now seeing Margaret, an artist she can relate to, in the position has given Maeve hope that she could possibly have the job herself someday.
As she talks, her inspiration is palpable. I can’t help but be inspired too, by Maeve and Margaret and also the Artist in Residence position itself. I realize that the residency is a channel bringing creativity not only from a single artist out to Pfister guests and employees, but also from artist to artist. Maeve is leaving the Pfister today with a renewed intensity and desire to create, and it’s infectious.
And all of this occurred while Margaret’s studio is closed and she’s out to lunch. Just her presence here is already emboldening us to greater things.