Maegan Oberhardt

15th Annual ARC Salon (2020-2021)

Maegan Oberhardt


Born in 1997 and raised on a rural property in Queensland, Australia, Maegan spent her early years surrounded by nature and native wildlife. This environment provided her with the opportunity to study their features, individual characteristics, movement, and their expressions. It taught her appreciation of the natural environment and inspired her passion for animals, becoming the foundation for her artistic creativity.

In 2010 she relocated to Melbourne, Victoria. After completing Year 12, she continued formal studies and by the age of 19, graduated University with a Bachelor of Design Arts.

Throughout her education she maintained a continual focus on art and experimentation in style, media, and mediums. She had become confident with her drawing skills and looked for unusual and challenging techniques to enhance her drawings in both concept and composition. One such technique has been traditionally referred to as 'Fumage'. This incorporates the soot from an open flame as the media directly or in combination with other media to create an ethereal and abstract effect. This technique was popularized by surrealist greats like Wolfgang Paalen (1905 - 1959), Salvadore Dali (1904 - 1989), and more recently the French Canadian artist Stephen Spazuk (1960 -- ).

Maegan explains this by the literal description of 'Painting with Fire': the technique of dancing an open flame underneath paper to leave a fragile layer of soot and etching it away to reveal the artwork. Working over a graphite sketch, she layers the soot from an open flame from various sources such as candles, fossil fuels, or wood. She will next begin the lengthy process of removing both soot and graphite by using tools such as brushes, erasers, and various hand tools to create an incredibly realistic image of the animal.

The connection within her art is in the technique. It is man-made fire burning paper (which is a by-product of trees). This comments on the conflict between man and nature. The result of that conflict is that most wild species are directly impacted by man's carbon footprint. By combining her drawing skills and passion for wildlife, Maegan has created a unique style and a collection of artworks that raise awareness and provide a voice for many species at risk.

Now at the age of 22, Maegan has been working as a full-time artist for the past few years. She has held several solo exhibitions in the Melbourne area and participated in group exhibitions in both Canberra and the Hunter Valley. Although considered as an emergent young talent, her skill has been recognised by several Fine Art galleries in Australia where her detailed work can be found alongside established Masters in Wildlife Art. Her primary focus is on Australian species.

Maegan has her studio based in North East Victoria (Australia) on rural property. Abundant with native wildlife, many have inspired several of her latest artworks.

* This statement has been provided directly by the artist in association to their 15th International ARC Salon entries. This content has not been edited for typos or grammatical errors and has not been vetted for accuracy.