Art is means of illustrating human impact

Artist Megan Broughton’s work includes narrative studies of her thoughts on the destruction of natural habitats. In acrylic paint or ink with watercolor, she shares her thoughts in a mix of abstract and realism. (Dan Pelle)
Artist Megan Broughton’s work includes narrative studies of her thoughts on the destruction of natural habitats. In acrylic paint or ink with watercolor, she shares her thoughts in a mix of abstract and realism. (Dan Pelle)

In a mix of realism, abstract and impressionism, done in acrylic paint, ink or water-based mediums on canvas or paper, Megan Broughton speaks her mind.

Sometimes she manipulates pieces of wood or rock to create sculptures and sometimes she simply sits, enjoying the art that forms naturally in nature. She is worried about the “death of the landscape” and relays that notion visually.

“My work deals with the environmental impact of man on the earth,” she said. “There are too many humans pulling from natural resources.”

Broughton grew up in the Nine Mile Falls area. In the first grade, she won an award for coloring within the lines and, at Lakeside High School, she quickly excelled in photo realism. After high school, she enrolled at Washington State University to study nursing, but she dropped out after falling in love. She had a child and then decided to go back to school after getting accepted into the Bachelor of Fine Arts program. She quit with 15 credits left. “Math frustrates me,” she said.

Broughton continues to paint, visually communicating her fears and longings. Her “day job” is in a factory, assembling 737 floor panels. “I am grateful for being a factory worker in that I understand some of the processes and the huge amount of environmental impact that our wants create,” she said. “My art is definitely a reflection of this fear and understanding of growth.”

In Broughton’s North Side home, a large piece of canvas is stapled to the wall by the dining table. It depicts a modern landscape where cellphone towers, wind turbines, a fence, a tent, and a figure fit into the scene as if they grew there. Another painting in her small studio is also a landscape with a large city in the background and a small indigenous camp overrun by urban sprawl on a hill. Paint drips like toxins into a body of water that meets the hill. There is no shore, only houses. Look closer and you’ll see Buddha sitting under a lone tree.

Broughton’s work flows well, a blending of the natural world and manmade creations. Even her abstract pieces seem to capture the clash of the natural with the unnatural; fractured landscapes with sharp lines and growing forms.

Broughton has never exhibited her art publicly but recently she was asked to display her work at Santé Restaurant and Charcuterie in the Liberty Building on the corner of Main Avenue and Washington Street in downtown Spokane. Her show will be part of a larger exhibit throughout the building that includes the works of a dozen other artists as well as a display of works by graduating students from Spokane Falls Community College’s fine art program.

Broughton is a little nervous, but looking forward to her first exhibit.

“Hopefully I will get more opportunities to expand on my thoughts and observations of the world we live in and how our ‘footprints’ affect it,” she said.

To her, it’s about consuming less, and being aware and thankful.

The Verve is a weekly feature celebrating the arts. If you know an artist, dancer, actor, musician, photographer, band or singer, contact correspondent Jennifer LaRue by email at jlarue99@hotmail.com.

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