Author: Emily Stochl

New Beginnings and Jeni McFarland

I interviewed fiction writer and Michigan-native Jeni McFarland about her debut novel, The House of Deep Water. We spoke about her writing process, the small Midwest farming town that makes up her book, and the novel’s themes of biracial identity, depression, family, new beginnings, and a community with secrets.  The House of Deep Water is available now from G.P. Putnam & Sons. Find McFarland on Twitter @jeni_mcfarland. Emily Stochl: Tell us about the writing process for The House of Deep Water. Jeni McFarland: I started this project when I was in graduate school. I was taking a class taught by Robert Boswell, and he gave us a prompt based on four different books we were reading—one was told in vignettes, one was told all in one day, one was told all in one year, and one was a novel in stories. He wanted us to try out different forms and see what felt good. I started writing about this small town, which looked kind of like the small town I grew up in, and it …

Midwestern Artists Creating with Repurposed, Sustainable Materials

Sustainability in the art world can mean a number of things, from using conscious art practices to upcycling materials, to ecological art which focuses on restoration. Environmental artists often explore the relationship between humans and nature, between man-made materials and natural environments, and they aim to work in a way that demonstrates harmony between the two.   From the banks of the Mississippi River to the small village of Northport, Michigan, we talked to four Midwestern artists who are creating sustainable, environmentally-engaged art and using reclaimed and repurposed materials. Jenny Murphy  While at Washington University for her BFA, Jenny Murphy became very interested in the negative impacts of American consumerism. She started to consider what art could be like when it’s not confined to an inaccessible gallery, and it was then that she started defining herself as a “community artist.” Murphy is the founder of Perennial, a sustainable art non-profit in St. Louis, that functions as a community workshop and store offering DIY and craft classes—everything from bookbinding to woven wall art —using reclaimed materials. …