After Megan Chalfant graduated college, she moved from Indiana to Juneau to pursue art.
Juneau was on the map for her because as she grew up, she routinely visited the capital city to see extended family. While here, she took note of the art scene.
“There’s so much public art around and people really support local artists,” Chalfant said. “You see it in businesses; you see it in homes. I’ve always been really drawn to the aesthetic of the art here and this kind of blending of cultural influences and natural influences. People kind of coming from all over really appealed to me.”
Juneau was “fertile soil,” an opportune place to explore her art in a community of other artists and those who support them. One such opportunity came when she started working at Coppa, a local coffee shop. Marc Wheeler offered to display her work for one of the First Friday showings. While she normally draws and paints, she had also been experimenting with multi-media collage. Not only does she use found imagery and paper, but painting, drawing and printmaking for her collages.
“I love working with (multi-media collage) because when I feel like the piece needs something or I want to add something but it’s not working in one medium you can turn to another medium and find it there,” she said.
For her show on March’s First Friday, she created eight pieces, in which she explored her experience of moving to Juneau and her growth as an artist.
“I left a lot of things I loved back in Indiana. I knew I was coming to Juneau to discover a lot of things that I was certain that I would love just as much, but it was a big decision,” she said. “…It’s been wonderful but also challenging. I’m amazed and inspired by the people I’ve met here and some of the experiences I’ve had. I felt like I was growing so much and felt the need to process this and say (a) sort of thank you as well for the experiences I’ve had.”
Her show at Coppa can be seen through the month of March.
After Chalfant got a studio space here in town, the first time she had such a space since college, she found inspiration in Juneau’s scenery, community, and culture. It was a “pleasant affirmation” that art is something she’s really passionate about. Like anyone, she’s had her doubts and insecurities about her work.
“It hasn’t always been easy to motivate myself to make art. Sometimes I go to the studio and go ‘This is all terrible. What do I do? I want to throw everything away!’” Chalfant said.
A few months ago, she voiced this concern to her mother who shared a section of a book about the life of artist Georgia O’Keeffe, who has been recognized as the “Mother of American modernism.”
“As a living artist, she experienced a fair amount of success and notoriety. She said she felt like she was walking this line ‘Am I an artist or am I not?’ If she (felt) that way then you can kind of persevere through that doubt – what beautiful work can be created from that? That just really gave me encouragement and inspiration,” she said. “I don’t have to be certain 100 percent of the time to create work that I love … and share that with other people.”
One of the ways Chalfant shares is by teaching at the Canvas Community Art Studio and at the Color Wheel Arts community studio. She’s offered cookbook illustration, drawing with Sumi ink, and upcoming, a class on multi-media collage. In this class Chalfant will have participants develop an image with Sumi ink, watercolors and collage techniques, teaching them about composition, color dynamics, and focal point. It’ll take place on Saturday, March 24 and 31, 9 a.m.-noon. Costs $119 and this covers materials. Those interested should call Color Wheel Arts at (907) 209-7173 to register or learn more.
To see more of Chalfant’s work, go to: meganchalfantart.wordpress.com.
• Clara Miller is the editor of the Capital City Weekly. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.