Artist Pages | Megan Wyeth: Exploring the Beauty of What is Right Here

“A Touch of Pink” (2020-21), photography

Megan Wyeth is an enthusiastic and empathetic chronicler of our local environment. Using a camera and a myriad of techniques, she reveals her deep affection for nature. “I love the Missouri — Midwest — landscape,” she said in a written statement, “the land, the flowers, the trees, the river. We have everything here. It’s a privilege to live in an area with such a vibrant ecosystem and to be able to make art here. I’ve never really had the desire to work anywhere else, and I hope to continue to explore what is right here.”

Wyeth, who grew up on a family farm in St. Joseph, studied photography and art history at the Kansas City Art Institute and the University of Kansas. At the age of 6 she discovered a book about the Spanish painter Joan Miró and was mesmerized by his abstract compositions and colors. She decided that she, too, would become an artist. That same year, another powerful epiphany occurred as she sat in the hayloft, waiting for her father. She noticed the dappled sunlight flickering and dancing about the barn and realized that light was not static or constant. This revelation sparked a continuing fascination with the dynamics of light and its effect on color.

Wyeth began her career as a weaver, but her passion for photography soon eclipsed her interest in fiber art. Over the years, she has designed fabric, created quilts, taught courses in iPhone and flower photography, worked for several greeting card companies and as a commercial photographer, capturing such diverse subjects as pigs eating feed, noodle-making machines and politicians. Her love for history led to an ongoing exhibition at the Pronto Café in St. Joseph about the variety of public figures, such as Walter Cronkite and Eminem, who were born in her hometown.

Throughout her work, Wyeth exhibits a keen sense of curiosity and willingness to experiment.

“I’m very much interested in expanding and evolving as an artist,” she said, “so much that I’m willing to risk failure.” At times, Wyeth will remove the color from her photos, reducing the subject to newly revealed shapes as in the black and white plant abstraction “Botanical Elements” (2019). The black in this work mimics the look of charcoal, an effect reinforced by the velvety quality of the uncoated paper on which the image is printed.

The alluring soft green of the ribbony “How my Farm Feels” was added after Wyeth stripped out the original hue of the grass, which she captured in multiple exposures laid on top of each other. Her reverence for historical photographic processes such as cyanotypes (or what children know as sun prints), is evident in the brilliant blue pigment of “Blue Botanicals.” This blue is a favorite of the artist and is often utilized in her botanical subjects.

In other works, Wyeth’s use of unexpected hues and photographic manipulations create the impression that they could be watercolors or pastels, as seen in many works from her “River Series.”

Last year, Wyeth exhibited works from her “River Series” at HJ’s Community Center. She often combines fragments of landscape, which she refers to as “layering.” Her images gently pull you in, reminding you of the unexpected natural beauty that could easily be overlooked. A sense of calmness prevails, with its related and welcome quietude.

The artist is preparing to move back to her family farm in St. Joseph soon, where she will focus on a new series for a group show at Leedy-Voulkos Art Center in February 2024.

Her connection to this land and its presence in her work is something that she often thinks about. “My instinct has always been to listen to what the living things on my farm are trying to tell me,” she said, “and if you put the palm of your hand on a tree or on the earth, you will know. It’s a gift all of us can feel. Nature can sustain itself and us in absolutely every way.”

“How my Farm Feels” (2021), photography
“Blue Botanicals” (2020), photography
“Botanical Elements” (2019), photography
“Untitled” (2023), photography
Nan Chisholm

Nan Chisholm is an art consultant and appraiser of 19th- and 20th-century paintings. After a long association with Sotheby’s, she founded her own business in 2003. She has appeared as a fine art appraiser on “Antiques Roadshow” since its inception in 1995.

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