Greetings Madeleine and thanks for taking the time to do our 10 Questions.
It was through shop staff alum, Lisa Jungmin Lee, that we were first acquainted with and began stocking your work—three risograph prints of different types of snacks, lovingly rendered and printed in hot pinks and red-oranges. They quickly became a hit with our customers, yet like many artist goods that we sell in the shop, the prints are just a sampling of your work.
You paint, you draw, you make ceramics, and zines, and paper-based sculptures. Many pieces feature meticulous rendering and engaging color contrasts, with repeating motifs of everyday objects, pets and growing things, as well as "twoness" and your experiences as a Chinese American adoptee living within the broader Asian American diaspora.
On your Instagram we can see you in process screenprinting huge lengths of cloth with illustrative patterns of your own design, and debuting mini ceramic collections alongside drawings and snapshots of your super cute shiba inu.
You're formally trained, with an MFA in Printmaking from the Tyler School of Art & Architecture and a BA in Studio Art and Sustainable Food & Farming from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. You're also currently an adjunct printmaking instructor at Tyler, and you lead handbuilding workshops at Black Hound Clay Studio.
Finally, as visitors to our shop may have noticed, your artwork graces our late winter windows in the form of a mushroom motif (and one fashionable rabbit).
Now that we've introduced you a bit, let's get to these questions. =)
1) What kind of environment did you come up in, and what kind of environment do you like to make for yourself today?
I grew up in Washington, DC with a single mom and our four dogs and one cat; Audrey, Oscar, Roscoe, Juno, and Eloise. I'm a city person to my core. I biked and metro'd everywhere and didn't learn to drive until after I turned 18. Every spring, we planted a veggie and herb garden in our backyard. My mom's a gardener and I attribute my love of plants to her.
I've always been drawn to artmaking ever since I can remember. When I was 3, I drew thousands of rainbows and family portraits. They still live in portfolios in my mom's basement. I went to art camps as a kid and fell in love with painting and ceramics. It wasn't until college that I discovered printmaking, which felt like the perfect mashup between all my interests.
As an adult, I'd describe my style as eclectic and colorful with a hint of grandma core. When my grandmother passed, I inherited some of her furniture from her house in Maine; so there are mementos of her all throughout my home. I also love to fill my space with artwork by friends of mine, vintage animal planters, postcards from travels, and tons of lil trinkets.
2) What kind of stuff were you into when you were around thirteen? Any advice for thirteen-year-olds today?
I was a typical 90s kid and 2000s teen. I wore only exclusively overalls for a few years and brightly colored shirts from Hanna Anderson or dELiA*s. Most of the time I could be caught hanging out with friends in our lime green basement (+ purple shag rug) blasting pop music and singing along or taking silly photos on photobooth. I love(d) playing Sims 2 using cheat codes of course or eating a bag of Cheetos. I feel like my best advice to teenagers today would be to try not to get sucked into social media. Find a sport of hobby to burn off some of your teenage angst and keep your friends close.
3) What's your stance on magic?
I'm definitely a believer in magic and fate. The experience of finding my birth family is something magical that's still unfolding in my life.
4) Do you have any feelings you wish to express about the connections or overlaps between agriculture and art?
I love farming and art, there's so much overlap between the two! Every year, I try to plant a garden in my backyard, I love eating fresh tomatoes off the vine and picking my own bouquets.
In college, I worked on the UMass Student Farm and learned all about production agriculture. I got to illustrate and compile a cookbook for CSA members, which I still use recipes from to this day. In grad school, I studied plant-based dyeing and ink making. I love reading about the histories of plants when incorporating them within my artwork. There are so many amazing things that plants can teach us.
My dream is to one day have my own art/farm/print shop/ceramic studio.
5) Do you have any thoughts you wish to share on diaspora and belonging? And how or where art comes in?
I'm a Chinese American adoptee and I feel a sense of in betweenness when I consider my identity. In 2019 through mostly luck and chance, I discovered my biological family in China. We have yet to meet but I'll never forget the feeling of seeing photos of my biological sister for the first time and thinking I was looking in a mirror.
Through my art practice, I process this longing for people I cannot remember and explore the hypotheticals of what life could've been like for me. I find myself searching for inspiration in the simplest places like walking through Chinatown or down the aisles in the Asian grocery store.
6) What's something you'll spend money on, and something you refuse to spend too much money on?
Ahh, I am a collector of sorts (also I'm a Taurus). I'll always throw down $$ to buy art supplies, vintage animals figurines, East Fork Pottery everyday bowls, anything Baggu, Trader Joes snacks, cute things for my dog, and treats from the farmers market. There's not much that I refuse to spend too much money on but I'm sometimes frugal when it comes to expensive drinks.
7) Area fashion trend you wish would come back?
Saddle shoes and frilly socks or hot pink jellies.
8) Area fashion trend you wish would retire?
Low rise skinny jeans. I can never get them on or off easily enough.
9) What's something you wish people engaged with more?
Running, it's my favorite way to explore the city and nothing beats a runner's high on a perfect weather day.
10) And, any shout outs?
Aww, shout out to Lisa Lee who originally connected me with Liz and all the Omoi Zakka staff. Shout out to Mikey, our Shiba Inu Miwa, and all my family and friends. Thank you to everyone who's supported my art in whatever form that may be and all of my mentors that have gotten me here. I appreciate you all <3
Thanks again Monk for having me!
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Bonus: Enjoy these early spring '23 shots of our front window, with artwork decals by you guessed it—Madeleine Conover!