All good things must come to an end: Last academic critique

This morning was my last academic critique – a bittersweet moment for sure after 10 years. While liberating, I know the loss will start to sting sooner or later. At the moment my system reads “summer” rather than “over” and so there’s little doubt that I’ll experience some sort of panic attack in a couple of months when I start getting stir crazy and ready to go back to school.

The critique went well. Nothing threw me, but then – this past year I’ve reached a place where nothing generally does. What I mean by that is that I’m learning to trust my instincts more and therefore, when I get into a critique I find that what is said often mirrors what I’m already thinking. The great part about critiques though is the surge of input that gets your brain revved up and looking at things, from different perspectives, and that – truly – is what I’m going to miss the most. There’s nothing that compares when it comes to energizing your work and feeding your thought process.

I brought about half of the pieces I’ve been working on lately, which meant I had a lot of work up. The piece that got the most response was the first piece in the new series I’ve been working on called “Charting A Course” (which I’ve mentioned in previous posts). The piece took a long time but not as long as you would think – I spent about 4 days in the studio working on it (roughly 20-24 hours). The work consists of thousands of birds, all of which correspond with every visible star (up to the 6th magnitude) between +50º to -50º by 0h to 16h in the night sky.

Untitled (Charting A Course #1), 36″ x 45″, watercolor, ink, and acrylic on paper

I’ve felt pretty good about this direction – the juxtaposition of birds and universe seems appropriate given my current situation. Migratory birds, primarily first generation, are guided by an impulse that carries them onward – into the unknown. They must trust blindly in something that is greater than themselves. The universe has been a guiding force for people throughout history; regardless of location, religion, age, purpose – man has always looked to the heavens for a sense of place and guidance (both literally and metaphorically).

I feel propelled forward into the next phase of my life, though – just like the fledgling bird – I have no idea where I will end up. I must simple trust that something will work out.

I’m currently working on a rather massive installation piece that is made up of 88 individual panels, to be arranged salon-style, which depict each of the major and minor constellations in the night sky. The entirety of the night sky can be broken up into these 88 constellations. Of course, as in the work above, the stars will be transformed into migrating birds. The individual pieces are roughly proportional to the constellations themselves, though there are some discrepancies here and there. The smallest formats are about 2″ x 2″ and the larges are 7″ x 7″ – the image below “equalizes” all of them so that they’re approximately the same size (thumbnail formatting) but – they are quite varied in reality. This just gives an idea of the color and aesthetic of the work as a whole.


I still have another 2 weeks but I don’t have to move out of my studio until the end of May. This is fortunate as I will be able to continue to work with the ornithology collection until the same time. I feel that this will provide plenty of time for me to wrap up some of the pieces I’m working on at the moment and provide a smoother transition while I relocate by beloved studio to my (soon to be) transformed second bedroom.

All good things must come to an end… fortunately for me, I’m a believer that as one door closes, another opens. I’m knocking till my knuckles bleed so eventually, I’ll figure out just which door that will be.

1 comment

  1. The magnificence of these works inspires prayer, Megan. They are truly holy. Loren Eiseley would be awed.

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