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DUBUQUE – Artist Megan Roethler has been accepted to be a part of the Biennial Exhibition at the Dubuque Museum of Art (DuMA). Roethler is a 2020 graduate of UNI and has been living and working in Independence for the past year. She believes she may be the youngest artist in the exhibition.

Before earning a B.F.A. with a museum studies certification, Roethler began her artistic path when her mother provided her with art supplies and developed her skills drawing with charcoal. But growing up she was not exposed to any contemporary artists.

“Iowa is in the middle of an art desert,” she said, noting the major galleries are in Chicago or on the coasts. It wasn’t until college that she really learned about the variety of artists and became aware of smaller area galleries.

“The [DuMA] space is very nice,” she said. “I wasn’t aware the museum was there. Not all galleries exist in New York or LA.”

As an artist she enjoys working with fiber, i.e., fabric, thread, stuffing, and mixed media. She says her grandma did a lot of sewing.

“She used a machine, but I can only stich,” she said.

Her two pieces on display at DuMA are:

- “So Close, So Far,” a skeleton in a chair that was hand-stitched and stuffed with found fabric.

- “Where’s Daddy?,” a wall of hands made from her father’s blue jeans.

Her inspirations came from childhood memories, including a room in an old house. She likes “campy” art.

“It can be surreal and fun,” she said, pulling from her bag a realistic piece of meat made from fabric.

Her “artist statement” for the show says, “My work focuses on the complexities of queer, female childhood. I use a variety of fiber materials to create surreal environments that embody my personal experiences as well as universal trauma felt by both LGBT individuals and women in America.”

For her, art is sporadic, a process building over a couple of months. She is currently working on five separate abstract pieces.

“If you really want to make art an occupation, it is hard but possible,” said Roethler. “It may not right for everybody, but see it through and you can overcome obstacles.”

In addition to the Biennial Exhibition, which runs through October 31, she is preparing for the Cedar Valley Pride Exhibit in August 2021 at Hawkeye Community College and a solo show in May 2022 at the Charles City Art Center.

For more information about the Dubuque Museum of Art, visit dbqart.org or call 563-557-1851.

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