Megan Hildebrandt talks to an Arts Academy student about her work. Photo credit: Timothy Broekema.
Hildebrandt poses during an Arts Camp mixed media class.
Hildebrandt (far right) tours the Cowell Family Cancer Center with Arts Academy students in the Aesthetics of Health class.
Hildebrandt paints one of two Traverse City street pianos.
Hildebrandt teaches a lesson to Arts Academy visual arts students. Photo credit: Timothy Broekema.
Megan Hildebrandt teaches painting, digital media and community outreach at Interlochen Arts Academy and Interlochen Arts Camp. A native of Detroit, Michigan, Hildebrandt received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Stamps School of Art & Design and her Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art from the University of South Florida. Her work has been exhibited at The Baltimore Museum of Art, Arlington Arts Center, Johns Hopkins Medical Center, the LIVESTRONG Foundation and more. A cancer survivor, Hildebrandt is an arts-in-health advocate. In 2016, she launched the Aesthetics of Health course at Interlochen Arts Academy.
We sat down with Hildebrandt to chat about some of her personal and professional favorites.
What’s your favorite medium?
It depends on what I want to make the work about. I love ink on paper because it’s so immediate, sort of an instant gratification thing. I love animating because it makes me go slower. Overall, I like making large-scale pieces. I’m more interested in the scale than the medium.
What’s one medium you’ve always wanted to try, but never have?
I’m so interested in repetition. I always wonder what it would be like to do plaster casting.
What, if anything, do you listen to while you’re working? Do you have a go-to artist or song?
I used to listen to music a lot. Recently, I’ve had no time to read books, so I’m really into podcasts. I like the murder mysteries and the narrative-based things that are telling a story. It helps me to not be anxious about what I’m doing and just lets me focus on the work.
What are you working on right now?
I have a painting I need to finish, and then I’m going to animate it in Photoshop. I’m also building my kid a spaceship because she wants to be an astronaut. I built her a spacesuit and did a photoshoot, which I’m going to animate so it looks like she’s going to space. I’m also designing outer space wallpaper. I follow the whims of my child at the moment.
If you could have your work exhibited anywhere, where would you want it to be shown?
I’m really interested in places that are underserved with art. The easy answer is usually “at this big festival” or “at this important gallery,” and that’s well and good, but I would love for my work to be shown in a variety of international hospitals and other places that need splashes of color more than a white cube gallery. I love the idea of being seen on the other side of the world. For me, it’s more about audiences that might need or appreciate my art.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given about your art?
You never know who might be looking for your work. When you’re scared to apply for an exhibition or a fellowship, you never really know what they’re looking for. Just go for it—that’s some of the best advice I’ve been given. Sometimes you get the right person just because you reached out.
Other than yourself, who is your favorite artist? Do you have any idols or role models?
I tend to be really drawn to artists who existed, either by their own decision or the way the Western art world treated them, outside the scope of New York. I love Hannah Wilke, who was really known for this work that was using her body a lot. She got sick with cancer later in life and videotaped the last ten years of her life—it’s in all these galleries now.
I also really like Georgia O’Keefe and Agnes Martin, these women that went out to the West because they were fed up with New York. The isolationist thing really appeals to me, probably because I’m living in a small house with my husband and daughter.
As far as contemporary artists go, I’m really interested in video artists who are using the internet to change gender dynamics. I really love Sarah Lynn Kelly and Nikki Lee, artists who are trying to take the internet and make it more feminist.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I can hula hoop really well and do tricks and stuff.
If you were an animal, what would you be?
I’d be a deer that’s smarter, one that’s not running into the cars. The deer is such a humble animal, but maybe a deer that was the the star of a movie. The deer that was the inspiration for Bambi.
Do you prefer coffee or tea?
Want to study with Megan Hildebrandt? Apply to Interlochen Arts Camp or Interlochen Arts Academy and meet her for yourself. If you’re interested in making a difference through your art, check out our new program, Citizen Artistry: The Role of the Artist in Communities.