Profile: Joe MacGown
Through writing, drawing and photography, Joe MacGown has created a life for himself that is just as intertwined as the nature that influences his artwork.
A scientific illustrator and research technician, MacGown started working part time in 1988 at the Mississippi Entomological Museum drawing structural illustrations of insects. He began studying different taxonomic groups and now focuses on ants of the Southeast.
In addition, MacGown maintains the "Ants of the Southeastern United States" webpage and provides his knowledge to the public, including appearing on the Animal Planet channel to speak about ants.
Outside of work, the self-taught artist creates surreal art he calls subconscious meanderings. His intricate works of art are influenced by his entomological work and can take up to 400 or more hours to complete. Many are mixed media pieces, created with ink, acrylic paint and other substances on wood.
This attention to complex detail is what scientific drawing is all about, he said.
"People have to use my scientific drawings to identify insects, so I have to be as accurate as I possibly can," he said.
A childhood spent collecting insects and exploring the woods also has played a role in shaping his artwork.
"I'm used to looking at nature up close, and it's chaotic," he said. "You can't really tell where one thing ends and another begins. Everything in this life is connected."
The artist's work has appeared in shows around the globe, and some of his pieces also have been featured in international art books.
Between his work for the university and his personal artwork, MacGown also finds time to run, an activity he enjoys so much he created a running club called the Starkville Striders that meets for runs three to four times a week.Writer: Margaret Kovar | Photo: Beth Wynn
Next week … Will Gentry !