We had the good fortune of connecting with Madison Branch and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Madison, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I’ve been involved in the visual arts since childhood. Some of my earliest memories revolved around drawing and making crafts. It was never really a question of whether or not I would pursue art as a career. It’s the only field I’ve ever been interested in.

As I got older- especially once I entered college- I was exposed to a much wider variety of artistic styles. I became interested in the multitude of ways in which different artists handled similar subject matter and ideas. This led to a lot of experimentation in my artistic practice. I found a lot of satisfaction in taking a theme or idea, and turning it into something tangible in the form of a drawing, painting, or collage.

The more work I make, the more meaning I find in this process. That’s how I know I made the right decision in my career choice. Even if I was not working as a professional artist, I’m certain that art would still be a huge part of my life, regardless.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve been interested in art my entire life and knew that I wanted to work in this field from a very young age. The question, initially, was what form this pursuit would take. What kind of work did I want to create? How would I support myself? Was it even possible to make a living as an artist?

I ended up receiving my BFA and MFA from the University of Texas at Tyler, graduating in 2021. While studying there, I was exposed to a variety of different artists, mediums, techniques, and philosophies surrounding art making. I became interested in abstract and non-objective work during this phase in my life. Eventually, I decided to pursue oil painting as my primary medium during my bachelor’s.

A few years later, I was in graduate school when Covid hit. We were locked down for a semester, unable to access our studios at the school. Because I had no space for large paintings in my tiny apartment, I decided to experiment with smaller-scale watercolors and paper collages. The latter eventually became one of my primary mediums, as well. I found that I enjoyed both the structured, organized methods that I had developed with the oil paintings, as well as the freedom and sense of play that came with the paper collages. The two bodies of work began to feed off of each other. This is fitting, as my work is all about the idea of many disparate parts coming together to make a coherent whole. Both the paintings and collages are based on assemblages of various shapes, materials, and symbols. They explore the idea of identity as created through a mosaic of experiences.

I decided to pursue my master’s because I wanted to teach at the college level (and because I wanted to continue using the school’s studio space and equipment). Art professors are expected to continue making art, entering exhibitions, etc. just as professors in other disciplines are expected to be active participants in their respective fields. I like having that as motivation. It’s a tricky balance to maintain, though. I teach for three different schools as an adjunct professor. It’s pretty overwhelming at times. I relish every moment that I can spare to work on my pieces. Work/life balance is difficult in this field, but I’m slowly learning how best to navigate it.

Being a professional artist is not an easy career choice. There’s a reason that many parents discourage their kids from pursuing the arts, but I still find it to be a worthwhile endeavor, whether you’re doing it professionally or as a hobby. Thankfully, I am finally starting to see some payoff, as I’ve begun to be accepted into more exhibitions and sell pieces regularly. I had my first post-graduation solo exhibition at the end of last year. Even doing interviews for publications such as this feels a little surreal. It’s an uphill trek at times, but I don’t think I would have been happy doing anything else.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in Tyler, Texas, and there’s definitely not as much to do around here as you would see in DFW. That being said, there are a few spots I’d take a friend that was visiting.

I enjoy hiking and spending time in nature, so we’d probably make a trip to Tyler State Park. There are also a few other hiking spots in the East Texas area where I’d like to take them, such as Caddo Lake State Park and the Mineola Nature Preserve.

As far as food is concerned, the best in Tyler is Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue. Luckily, I live about 5 minutes away from the restaurant, so we’d absolutely go there, as well.

Lastly, there are a couple of art-focused destinations that we could visit, including UT Tyler’s Meadows Gallery, the Tyler Museum of Art, and the Longview Museum of Art. Both museums have surprisingly robust permanent collections, and the Meadows Gallery frequently shows work from both internationally recognized and local artists.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to give credit to the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Tyler. The amazing faculty and staff there have given me the guidance that I needed to pursue the path of a fine artist and professor. Now that I’m out of school, I’m incredibly grateful to be able to work with them as a fellow instructor, as well.

I also want to thank the faculty and staff at the Tyler Junior College Art Department for their continued support in my teaching endeavors. I’ve learned so much from working as an adjunct for them, in addition to UT Tyler, and Trinity Valley Community College.

In particular, Derrick White, the department chair for TJC’s Art Department, recommended me for this article. I’m very thankful to him for this opportunity!

Website: https://madib104.wixsite.com/madisonbranchart

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/atlasmoths_art

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