Looking at the world
NH Arts Council new visual fellows reflect on possibilities and position
By Heidi Masek email@example.com
Megan Bogonovich of Concord and Alexandra de Steiguer of Farmington are the visual artists who were recently awarded $5,000 fellowship awards from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. There were five 2007 fellows in total, and two finalists who received $2,500.
People say Bogonvich’s stoneware and ceramic sculptures are “disturbing,” but to her they seem whimsical, she said: “It always seems like very wholesome stuff.” Her pieces, such as a corral out of which a girl’s legs are wiggling as if she dived in to explore, are “more like little scenarios,” Bogonovich, 30, said. She looks at the world’s “wonder and mystery” and presents possibilities with her sculptures.
“I’ve always liked mixing abstract imagery with realistic imagery,” she said. “I think they go together better than people assume. There’s a lot of unexplained stuff going on in our lives,” she said. “The idea of risk, moving outside of a safety zone,” is a major theme, she said.
“Probably for a lot of people $5,000 isn’t a lot of money,” Bogonovich said. But right now she doesn’t own any equipment. She teaches three classes at Kimball Jenkins Estate in Concord as an adjunct professor for the NH Technical Institute. She helps in the studio in exchange for work space. With the fellowship, she will be able to buy a few pieces of equipment she never could have afforded otherwise. She also hopes to put together her first solo show in New Hampshire this spring and use some of the fellowship money toward completing her marketing Web site.
“It’s just cool to talk to other people who like art,” Bogonovich said about working with the Arts Council.
Before Bogonovich, originally from Vermont, went for an MFA in Ceramics from the University of Montana, she majored in painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. She took a ceramics class her last semester and was hooked, she said.
“Sometimes I feel my work is a little schizophrenic,” she said. “Because I work in clay — it’s hard to resist working on functional things.” Besides sculptures, she makes pottery such as a series of platters she’s showing at a League of NH Craftsmen show. She can use her painting background while decorating functional pieces. “I’m always really torn between 2-D and 3-D,” she said.
Bogonvich said she enjoys teaching ceramics because it has built-in restraints, such as structure requirements. “It takes a long time to become competent with clay,” she said. She may make two or three versions of a piece before she is happy. “Right now it’s a whole lot of discovery,” she said.
De Steiguer has been a winter caretaker for the Isles of Shoals for the past ten years.
“It’s cold and stormy and absolutely wild and beautiful.... I think it affects my philosophy, which affects my work,” de Steiguer said about the isolation and the elements. In her images, she tries to express the feeling of smallness within the natural world.
“Winter kind of strips away the lushness that sometimes can distract you,” de Steiguer said. She develops and prints her gelatin silver images by hand.
This is de Steiguer’s second fellowship. Her 2002 award helped her gain recognition, she said. One of the fellowship judges was a curator of the De Cordova Museum, and subsequently purchased three of de Steiguer’s images for the museum. De Steiguer will probably use this award to upgrade her equipment. She also wants to use some of it to publish a book of her work. “I can’t even afford to buy my own work, if I went to a gallery,” she said. Art books are an affordable way to appreciate art.
In the summer, de Steiguer lives on mountain land on which she and her partner built a home between jobs crewing on tall ships. She often uses a kayak to get between the islands when weather allows in the winter.
“I can’t begin to express the growth I have experienced during this extended time alone amid rocks, sea and sky,” said the New York native.