Featured Artist Megan Greenholt
Written by Julia Rix
Megan Greenholt and her garden live in St. Peter’s Village in Chester County, PA with her husband and two daughters. She earned a Bachelors degree from Carnegie Melon University in Printmaking and Illustration, and a Masters degree in Art Therapy from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is currently working on a Masters in Art Education with teaching certification at Kutztown University. She has been a member of MamaCITA since 2007.
From the Garden to Art
When you drive along the long curvy country roads of Chester County on the way to Megan’s house, the air seems cool and crisp. Like the day MamaCITAs Diana Trout, Karen McLaughlin, and I took the hour long drive to spend the day with Megan, her garden and an Indigo vat.
We came equipped with natural fiber cloths, some prepared with mordant, some not… and a willingness to learn from Megan about how the plants grown in her yard can become art materials.
After a refreshing cup of iced tea on the patio we took a tour of her garden. There were many wonders there, but most relevant to our trip was the patch of indigo, some marigolds, and a field of queen ann’s lace. With the joy of experimental pre schoolers we watched as cloths dipped in the indigo dye turned from green to blue before our eyes when exposed to air. We came away with some nice material for our own art pieces and our souls refreshed. (See a video of a similar natural dying adventure at the end of this article.)
For Megan, this knowledge comes from an intersection of several interests: gardening, historical processes, and fibers. When Megan and her family moved to St. Peter’s Village in 2004 they inherited an extensive flower garden from the previous owner of their property. She and her husband expanded the plantings to include vegetables and natural dyeing plants. While visiting the Joanna Iron Furnace in nearby Morgantown with her family, Megan learned about the natural dyeing techniques used by early American settlers. She volunteered and now she gives presentations at festivals. (See her at the Hay Creek Festival on September 10-11th!) On to of that, Megan is a self-taught sewer and knitter who has always been interested in fibers.
Now Megan maintains a dye garden where she uses her plants in a natural dyeing process to color both yarn and fabric to be used in her art.
Last year Megan brought her knowledge to middle school students with fellow MamaCITA Brenda Howell. Together, built a raised dye garden (still at the center) and taught a week long workshop at the Cheltenham Center for the Arts. Their students learned three shibori techniques which use stitching and tying to create patterns (think Japanese-style tie dye) and used an indigo vat to dye their work.
This academic year Megan picked up a job teaching middle school art in West Chester while she continues to pursue a Masters of Education with teaching certification through Kutztown University.
What inspires her? Her garden and her cabinet of curiosities/vintage artifacts, pattern. symbolism. The moments in-between.
Her processes embrace spontaneous creativity. In fact, it is her attraction to the processes of art making that leads her to education and teaching. For the past few years Megan has been volunteering/working at Camphill Soltane in their textile studio. Their mission is to employ adults with and without disabilities in the production of woven, stitched, and silkscreened products. Their beautiful wares can be found at several local art festivals and online via Etsy at ingc.
Life as a MamaCITA
Megan joined the group in 2007 when her youngest child entered Kindergarten. She had just dedicated her newfound time during the school day to start making art consistently. So, looking for collaboration and community with others, she sought out an artists’ group and found MamaCITA.
A short video of a Dye Day Workshop at Megan’s Garden.