Artist Bio & Statement
I live and create my art in Wynnewood, PA. I spent the early years of my life, seven miles outside of Manhattan. I was fortunate to have a mother who took me to all the museums in NYC and the metropolitan area. My mother, realizing my interest in art, enrolled me in art lessons with a local artist as an after-school activity. I studied at Hood College in Frederick, MD for one year. I met and married my first husband and we were married in Zurich, Switzerland. The next three years I lived in Germany as well as traveling to the British Isles and most of Western Europe. Upon returning to the United States, I lived on several army posts in Oklahoma, Texas, and Georgia. While raising two daughters, I began to paint with groups of local artists.
My first husband was killed during the Vietnam War. As a young widow with two children, I moved to New Jersey to be near family, returned to school, completed my BA degree in English at Fairleigh Dickinson University. I immediately begin teaching high school English in a large suburban high school.
I met and married my current husband a few years later. Shortly after remarrying, we moved to Padua, Italy. While living in Italy, I taught English as a foreign language. My children and I traveled with sketchbooks and to this day, my children’s early drawings of their Italian adventures are among my most treasured possessions. My children and I were introduced to the old “Punch and Judy” shows and my interest in the art of puppetry began. Moving back to America, I returned to teaching, earning advanced degrees in special education, teaching reading and attended the Pennsylvania Writers Project. During this time, I became a member of the Puppeteers of America and founded along with a partner, the puppet troupe, “The Fablemonger Puppet Theater”. We performed throughout the Delaware Valley as well as becoming the programmers for children’s activities and education at the National Museum of American Jewish History. I was named the artist- in -residence at the Please Touch Museum for one year.
I retired from teaching and attended Hahnemann Medical College and University. I received a degree in couples and family therapy. While attending this program, I was also able to take several classes in art therapy. The next several years were rewarding, working in community mental health as a crisis worker, therapist, and supervisor of child/adolescent outpatient services. I used art therapy with a group, couples and individual clients.
In 2007, I retired and returned to studying art at the Main Line Art Center. I have been fortunate to study with many fine working artists there, Cavin Jones, Lisa Learner, Andrea Synder, Sandi Lovitz, Nuri Vincens and Winnie Radolan. I have also studied with Nancy Barch at CAC, Lauren Dadonna at Wayne Art Center and Richard Watson at PAFA. I have attended workshops at Penland Center for the Arts and the Hudson River Valley Art workshops, studying with Fran Skiles and Karen Rosassco.
I am a member of the Delaware Valley Art League and am currently serving on the league’s board of directors, GNAL, MCOPA and a founding member of the Delaware Valley Collage Collaborative. I have exhibited at the following venues: Mainline Members Show, Wayne Members Show, Ludington Library in Lower Merion, Martins Run retirement community, Beauty Gallery in Newtown Square, , MCOPA, Henrietta Hankins Library, Swarthmore Library, Malvern Library, Franklin Commons, St. Asaphs Gallery, Mainline Spring Gala, Harcum Junior College and the Malvern Art Show. I have received a number of awards from DVAL, first, second and third prize as well as several merit awards.
“The Practice of Art isn’t to make a living. It’s to make your soul grow.” – Kurt Vonnegut
My art is about transformation. I am a former high school English teacher, licensed Couples and Family Therapist, a professional puppeteer and an inveterate hand knitter who grew up outside of Manhattan. Each of these endeavors and passions has inspired my art. I am drawn to storytelling and I am enchanted by written language (symbolic mark making). Working for many years as a therapist, listening to clients’ stories, I was struck by their use of language and metaphor to transform and master their life stories. As a professional puppeteer and a founding member of a puppet troupe, I engaged in scriptwriting, creating the puppets, costuming and performing. Taking inanimate objects and bringing them to life is a most exciting form of transformation.
My grandmother taught me to knit and I am always knitting for family, friends, and charity. I also have worked in yarn shops. I am inspired by the color and texture of fibers. The act of knitting amazes me; the fact that it only takes needles and some yarn to transform these elements to create intricate patterns into a thing of beauty.
I can’t remember a time in my life when “the city” was not part of my landscape. I was fortunate to have a mother whom from an early age took me to all the art venues that NYC offered. I have lived in Europe for a number of years and have traveled to most of the great cities. Although I appreciate nature, I am fascinated by the city. Living in the suburbs, I hop on the train, go to the city and walk for miles, drinking in the sights, smells and sounds of city life. I am forever interested by the changing colors, patterns, and textures found in the city.
The transformation of raw materials to create complex and visually stimulating structures informs my art. Each of these interests can be found in one form or another in my art as I attempt to use color, https://mcgopa.wordpress.com/virginia-conover/pattern, texture and marking making to transform the materials at hand.