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Megan Sterling

Hailing from Idaho, Megan Sterling has been established in Chicago since 2005, coming here to pursue her Master of Fine arts in Studio arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago after receiving her BFA in printmaking from Boise State University. She taught adjunct then full time at Harrington College of Design for five years before branching off to work more independently as an artist and teacher. She exhibits her prints and large-scale drawings regularly in Chicago and across the country including New York, Cleveland, Boise, Portland, and St. Louis.

See more of Megan’s work on her website.

Visit her on Instagram.

TEACHER FEATURE: a Q & A with Megan Sterling

How long have you been at CPC?

Whoa. Well… I started out as an intern when I was in graduate school in May 2006 and loved the community here and continued on as an intern and TA’d for the Screen Printing class taught at the time by Alan Lerner. After grad school I began adjunct teaching elsewhere and Alan stepped away from teaching at the CPC and I was able to take over his class. I’ve been teaching it since as well as helping keep things going here with events, schedules and other facility stuff. It’s like my second home.

Why do you make art?

I think like a lot of artists, I just need to. My work is my means of processing things that I struggle dealing with in a way that talking or writing cannot achieve. As much as it’s personal, I’ve discovered a lot of people deal with similar things and can relate to my work because of that.

How do teaching and printmaking play a part in your studio practice?

Teaching is a reciprocal exchange for me. Having to prep for my classes and be prepared to convey technical information as well as conceptual ideas keeps me on my toes and thinking about ways to approach things from different perspectives. What the students do continually inspires more ideas for me as well. Printmaking is another modality of making that allows me to push my practice. My work is rooted in drawing, but that becomes redundant and predictable for me whereas printmaking is so diverse in the mark-making and capabilities it can achieve it allows me to augment and expand what I do.  

What other media do you enjoy working in?

Drawing, as I mentioned, and some installation that involves wood, fabric and other materials.

Cool stuff coming up?

I will be doing an installation in a project space at Waubansee Community College in July and will be having a show with my partner Matt Bodett in about a year at Bert Green Fine Art.

What has been your most embarrassing teacher moment at CPC?

I mean, I’m awkward and clumsy so with that being a constant in my life, I guess not much seems that embarrassing, I just roll with it.

What direction are you planning to go in the coming year with your work?

I’ve been working on different ways that my cut-out drawings can be pushed more. While they have figurative elements, I enjoy abstracting elements more and more and am interested in combining other cut out objects and shapes such as wood and fabric, and my hope is to commission some neon pieces to go with my drawings.

What book are you reading currently?

I obsessively read books for a while and have petered out in the last few years because I’ve been doing so much I fall asleep when I start to read. I was in the middle of reading a book called “The Body Keeps the Score” that is related to things I struggle with and the work I make but it’s tough stuff for me sometimes and I took a break from it and will return at some point. I’ve become distracted by a new book I got for my birthday that just came out called “Perspectives on Contemporary Printmaking” that is a compilation of printmaking-related essays since 1986. Nerd city! I’ll also probably take breaks from that and swing back to reading other things, like political articles and memes on Facebook. I’m human. 

What is your favorite non-art distraction?

Riding my bike. Plants. Nature-y things. Not a lot of the latter around here so I try to get to the Botanical Gardens or the Conservatories as much as possible and walk down to the lake where I live.

Who are three artists (dead or alive) who inspire you?

William Kentridge, Kara Walker, Kelda Martensen

Who is your favorite printmaker?

Nicola Lopez and Sonnenzimmer

In your past life, you were a______.

Tropical plant. Or a cat. Maybe a large feline in a tropical region.

Are you more a hunter, or a gatherer?

Mostly a gatherer, but if my blood sugar is low survival instincts kick in and I become a hunter. So I try to spare the population and keep snacks close by.

What was the last gift you gave someone?

A tattoo. I didn’t do the tattoo, just paid for it rather than give a clunky thing that accumulates dust.

Favorite teaching moment?

When my students are as excited about printmaking as I am.

Check out links to other TEACHER FEATURE interviews with CPC faculty here.