Portraitist Margaret Bowland on her debut at CAM
“Iwas born in Burlington, North Carolina and then I went to UNC-Chapel Hill. At that point in time, the figure was sort of forbidden in formal art education. It broke my heart. I had been to Governor’s School in Winston-Salem and I expected, when I got to college, to learn how to paint like what I saw at museums.
“I had one professor, he would let me go to the back of the studio and I would paint whoever would sit for me. I would give them the painting (in return) because I had no money.
“… I tell you, one of the things that saved me was the state museum in Raleigh (now the North Carolina Museum of Art). … I would stand in front of paintings and read a lot, and go back, and find out how to make those pictures. It took years. It’s been something, boy.
“I now teach at the New York Academy of Art, a graduate school. It’s beautiful to give students something like what you wish you’d had. It’s healing.
“… My work is figuration. As a painter, if you don’t find support somewhere, and ultimately some public support, you can’t go on. You just can’t.
“(This month’s exhibition at CAM will be Bowland’s first solo museum show in North Carolina.) Oh honey, this is huge. Are you kidding me? My relatives are coming out of the woodwork. My high school friends from Walter Williams High School in Burlington are all coming to see it. It is a big deal to have my work accepted here. This show has been a labor of love and I am so grateful.”
Margaret Bowland: Painting the Roses Red opens at CAM Raleigh April 6. The show brings together a selection of Bowland’s works from the past decade that explore identity and cultural expectations. The exhibition will be on display through June 17.
To learn more: camraleigh.org/exhibitions.