Margaret Bowland’s spellbinding and psychologically charged work brings viewers face to face with contentious culture while affirming the resilience and triumph of the human spirit. A masterful observer of life’s unpredictable nature, her work conveys universal themes through unusually specific insights. Bowland’s work explores the subtle and nuanced edges between strength and vulnerability, certainty and doubt, faith and disbelief. Bowland’s probing and deeply personal images call into question our societal expectations of gender, race, and beauty.
In 2011 Bowland had her first New York solo exhibition, Excerpts from the Great American Songbook, which traveled to the Greenville County Museum of Art, SC. In February 2013, she presented her second solo exhibition, Disturbing the Peace. Bowland’s work has been shown nationwide and internationally in group museum exhibitions and art fairs, including the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, California and Art Fair 21, Cologne, Germany. Additionally, in 2009 she received major recognition as the People’s Choice Award Winner in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
Born in Burlington, North Carolina, Bowland studied at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill before moving to Brooklyn, NY, where she has lived and worked for over 20 years. She is an adjunct faculty member at the New York Academy of Art.
About Margaret Bowland
“Beauty makes sense to me, has weight for me, only when it falls from grace,” writes Margaret Bowland, who challenges notions of beauty, race, and gender in her figurative paintings and pastels. “My work is about beauty—what it means to be beautiful and what significance the idea has in the 21st century in the world of art,” she says. Focusing on people who have been historically marginalized, Bowland sees beauty as an attribute that both helps and harms those considered to possess it. Among the sitters appearing in her lush, large-scale compositions are young black girls and a woman with dwarfism. Bowland approaches each of her subjects with both tenderness and scrutiny, sometimes painting them in the guise of art historical figures or with accoutrements reflective of the stereotypes and expectations imposed upon them by society.
American, b. 1953, Burlington, North Carolina, based in Brooklyn, New York