As an artist-in-residence back in April of 2019, I found myself feeling rather kindred to the tall magnolia tree stationed across the road from Main Street Arts. Everyday, I watched the tree from my studio window as it responded to the stubborn shift of winter to spring; transforming from some kind of desperate stick figure into a blossom-bearing giant by the end of the month. Not only could I relate to the tree as it evolved from a state of hibernation to a state of accelerated growth, but it also helped me choose which project to pursue while at MSA, as I came into the residency with a handful of ideas, not knowing which would be feasible given the limited materials I was able to bring with me on the plane from Seattle, WA. 

Rowan Walton, preparing to cut wood–safely!

I chose to pursue a series of large drawings I’d envisioned a few years earlier while finishing up my undergrad in Environmental Studies and Art. Drawing tends to be my go-to medium, as I value the precision and clarity of the finished product. These pieces depict various tree trunks adorned with an eclectic mix of footwear, an idea inspired by some of the parallels I saw between the “giants of the forest” and the gender-bending “giants” of the drag catwalk. 

Rowan in her studio at Main Street Arts–April, 2019

There’s a special kind of freedom and empowerment in defying what can be suffocating social norms, particularly those dictated by clothing, so I wanted to investigate this notion through the incorporation of an organism as big and regal as the drag queens and kings I enjoy and admire. While I drew the first few pieces my “Natural Queens” at Main Street Arts, I looked out the window to the magnolia tree across the street and thanked it for the gentle push it gave me to get going on something I’d sat on for so long. 

I relished my time as a resident artist at Main Street Arts because it afforded me space and time to embrace my creative practice with virtually no restraints (not to mention, Brad, Sarah, and their pups Margot and Rodney are wonderful!). The experience filled me with a newfound confidence to embrace myself as an artist, despite my tumultuous creative practice…I remembered how crucial it is to start making and stop waiting. 

“Kippertown”, digital painting (2021) by Rowan Walton

Nowadays, I’m doing my best to honor this notion with my own little magic mix of playfulness and patience. As such, my art is a practice of patience and play. It’s my respite from adulting (which I’ve recently plunged into as Laboratory Technician!); and a thread connecting me back to my inner child whenever she might wonder away. 

Currently, I have work on show here at Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs, NY and at Jane’s Art Center in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. While I’m very much in the midst of settling into my new job, I’m still making time for creating. In particular, I’ve been learning the basics of animation and painting more as a means of breaking up my vanilla standard of drawing!

Eternal Ephemera includes artwork by Evan Bobrow, Lya Finston, Scott McMahon, and Rowan Walton and runs through Friday, September 17, 2021.

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