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Miriam McAuley

Updated: Apr 20, 2020

McAuley grew up in East Africa surrounded by diverse, beautiful tribes. Through this experience she gained an appreciation and respect for learning about people and their cultures. From the time she could hold a crayon, she was drawing scenes from her life and imagination. Her love of photography was passed down from family members who inspired her to capture life on film when she couldn’t draw it quickly enough. Most of her drawings and photographs celebrate people, and through her drawings she hopes to communicate their inherent worth and the beauty of their diversity.

McAuley studied at Dordt College in Northwestern Iowa, receiving a bachelor’s degree in fine studio arts, as well as a minor in psychology. She believed the combination of these disciplines would be useful in cross-cultural work. One of her goals after university was to travel, and she has done just that - a semester in the Middle East, a summer in Italy, and visits to her home in Africa. From 2014-2016, she settled amongst a very traditional people, the Samburu of northern Kenya. Joining in the arts of the Samburu through many hours spent threading beads and asking questions, McAuley strove to learn how art communicates culture and affirms the beauty of her Samburu neighbors. She also discovered that drawing came in handy in language study as she sketched pictures to help her gain vocabulary.

McAuley currently lives and works in North Africa as part of an artist residency. She is learning more about the traditional art forms of a new culture. During this residency, she works with and learns from traditional artisans (opportunities for tile work, weaving, embroidery, metal work, calligraphy etc.) and further develops her own style of work. A few months of language study upon arriving in North Africa better prepared her for these interactions.

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