At first glance, the paintings of Neill Ewing-Wegmann '02 are whimsical creations rendered in bold, psychedelic colors, populated with comical monkeys, robots and octopuses. A closer look reveals details that undercut the whimsy: smoke billows from factory chimneys; backgrounds loom over foreground figures; unsettling gears and cogs suggest the mechanization of modern life. Ewing-Wegmann has created a striking body of work in acrylic paint and marker on canvas and paper that is visually arresting and socially aware.
Ewing-Wegmann majored in Graphic Design and is a designer at a printing company in Portland, Maine. The Maine native spent his formative years in California before returning home at the age of 12. He has also spent much time in his parents' home state of Louisiana, and jokes that he is rather tri-coastal. This exposure to different environments has been influential. A lot of my artwork is a commentary on industrialization, pollution, and getting used to these things as part of our landscape, said Ewing-Wegmann. I grew up in Los Angeles, and now here I am in Maine, and it's pristine and beautiful. It is a major contrast, but still there are these factories and smokestacks, which are a big part of my work.
Ewing-Wegmann lives in Westbrook, near Portland's thriving art scene. His work is frequently shown in local galleries and beyond. It has been featured in a social media marketing campaign by New Hampshire-based Stonyfield Farm. Classmate Amy Birner Peterson '02, who works for the yogurt manufacturer, contacted Ewing-Wegmann, and he agreed to be the featured Artist of the Day on May 11, 2013. His artwork adorned Stonyfield's Facebook page, allowing him to reach a sizable new audience and direct traffic to his own Facebook page. It created a lot of excitement and buzz, as well as some legitimacy, said the artist. When people see a brand that's very recognizable associated with an artist, that definitely gets their attention and provides a boost.
Mike Gregory, Assistant Director of Advancement Communications