An MFA candidate in Printmaking at the University of Alberta, Myken McDowell received a BFA (with distinction) from Concordia University in Montreal. She also studied at the Oxbow School (an art-focused high school), Red Deer College and Funen Art Academy in Odense, Denmark. Concerned largely with ideas surrounding narrative and the archive, Myken works across disciplines—in printmaking, video and fibers—to make research-based art that often manifests in series. Her work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally and has appeared in Interfold Magazine.
My interdisciplinary art practice is rooted in ideas surrounding narrative and the archive. My experience on an archeological dig in Jordan—trying to decipher exactly what happened to the family that lived in the Iron Age we were digging up—had a profound impact. The time I spent on site felt like a type of game driven not by an impetus to win, but a desire to know someone’s story and preserve it in a way that will continue to speak.
Since then, I have been driven to tell stories through my work, often merging traditional methods with contemporary technologies as a means of exploring different perspectives. The Descent series, for example, combines photo-polymer printing and animation. The source material for this series—film footage of a family road trip through Banff in the 70s—goes through several filters and the end result, whether a print, video or book, is dramatically different. A new narrative emerges.
These narratives are sometimes personal and other times reflect a more collective experience. Camouflage, a laser-cut deerskin work, emerged as an investigation in contrasts. The cutting of skin is eclipsed by the prettiness and refinement associated with the handmade lace tradition. In both traditional lacemaking and in my own deerskin version, the process is laborious, involving subjugation and sacrifice.
Whether mining individual or more collective histories, it is the dichotomies that pique my interest and are the common thread running throughout.