Wendy MacNaughton

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Wendy MacNaughton’s photojournalistic drawings and Venn diagrams are my favorites. She works mostly with ink, watercolor, words, and moments.

Why do people go through the pains of documenting life and/or trying to reflect and capture it in art?

We are inundated with information these days – we have a million choices, a hundred things happen at once, everything is trying to get our attention. Documentation is a way to slow down and really focus on something, notice lines and details that otherwise get lost in the barrage, and remember it. By removing things from their context and studying them through whatever medium one chooses to use, we can create narratives, give meaning, and make sense of the things around us.

How does it feel to be able to tell stories through your works?

When I start a piece I don't know what the story will be. And if I think I do, I’m inevitably wrong. Stories reveal themselves through the making of the thing – through observation and talking to people. It's an uncertain and very organic process that I really enjoy.

In a world that's sometimes so hopeless, do you think we can ever change it for the better?

I feel very lucky to have spent time with people who have persevered through times I doubted I would have the strength to get through (like a genocide). Of course they were traumatized, but they came out with greater compassion for others (even the people who persecuted them) and determination to change things for the better. For me, that puts things in perspective.

How was it growing up in San Francisco, and then visiting places like Paris, New York and East Africa?

You know, I actually used to get homesick a lot when I was a kid and didn't want to be away from home for long. But for some reason when I was around 22 and was offered that opportunity to take off for Rwanda I grabbed it. Maybe because I was unhappy doing what I was doing, maybe I felt like it was time to get out of town, maybe because I have always prioritized my work and it was a job I couldn't turn down. It doesn't really matter why I went, but that I did. It was life changing. It gave me a whole new perspective on my life here in the states. It taught me to appreciate difference and history and relationships. Traveling and working with people in other cultures on their terms taught me to be a good stranger. And now, that is one of the most comfortable roles for me – the stranger. And the strange land can be anywhere – even my own back yard.

How's life going?

I woke up today, had coffee and breakfast. Hung out with my partner and our animals. Took care of a little business, now I'm getting ready to head out to do some drawing. I'm having this nice little conversation with you. Not bad, I’d say. I feel pretty darn lucky.

That's Wendy MacNaughton from San Francisco. Here's a Fission-Fusion strip she did a while back.