|Experienced With||Teaching engagements, Collaboration|
I have lived most of my life in the rural-industrial coalfields of Appalachia. A land of great natural beauty, it has been ravaged by centuries of industry, and the last remnants of unspoiled nature are isolated between regions of bleakness and environmental trauma. (This is the place where director John Hillcoat filmed his post-apocalyptic movie, The Road.) As an artist living at this particular time and place, I attempt to document a small part of this Earth—its charms along with its post-industrial squalor, as well as a few of its rapidly diminishing native species.
My recent monotypes are inspired by accounts of extinct birds, such as the Passenger Pigeon, whose vast populations once thrived in hardwood forests of oak, beech, and chestnut. For the background layers, I photographed tree carvings on a hillside above the Monongahela River at a place called Sophie's Woods. This where is where American Statesman Albert Gallatin buried his young wife Sophie in an unmarked grave, in 1789, at a time when the forests were filled with birds. In the surrounding woods, decades of lovers have their carved names in the soft bark of the beech trees. I printed ink transfers of these bark carvings onto watercolor paintings of flowering trees, and then drew and collaged fragments from 19th Century natural history prints of Audubon and others.
Maggy Aston lives on the banks of the Monongahela River in Greensboro, PA. She teaches drawing and biological illustration at California University of Pennsylvania, where she encourages her students to study nature and draw directly from observation. She spends her summers painting landscapes on Assateague Island, off the coast of Virginia, and operates a seaside bookshop-gallery with her husband on Chincoteague Island. Each summer, she offers a two-month artist’s residency at her home and studios in Greene County, PA.