Juniper Winnecour, an eighth grade student at Hanger Hall School, has been drawing for as long as she can remember. Along with her artistic pursuit, she’s more recently begun studying French.
In 2020, while at home in the early days of COVID-19, she asked her mother and fellow artist, Meg, “When will I be able to actually use the French I’m learning?”
That same evening, the pair discovered and applied for the Chateau Orquevaux residency. Since 2015, the program has brought together artists, writers and musicians from around the world to France’s Champagne countryside for a two-week workshop.
“There was no risk to the application,” Juniper says. “It cost nothing. So, we uploaded art samples and filled out the application. Then we put the chateau in the back of our minds.”
Five months later, Juniper received a surprise email announcing she and her mother had been accepted.
COVID delayed their participation, but two years later the mother-daughter duo are now less than three months away from making the trek.
“Getting accepted into an artistic program in France is like living a dream,” Juniper says.
Before her retirement earlier this year, Meg taught for 10 years at Hanger Hall. Drawn to the natural world, her acrylic paintings feature exotic wild ferns, bright colors and abstract shapes in bold colors. “I try and paint my wild energy into each of my pieces,” she says.
This energy is captured in surprising and vibrant ways. Her skies are a deep orange. Her leaves, full of life, explore various shades of red and blue. And her abstractions shine in bright, electric pink.
Meg says she’s inspired by early 20th-century Fauvist painters. Her style and use of color, which often elicit a dreamlike state, also channel Henri Rousseau‘s jungle painting that took Paris by storm over a century ago.
“I am always working on the messy middle of a painting,” she says, inside her small white home studio, Cloud Cottage, in West Asheville.
The French-style cottage is surrounded by flowers, ferns and towering trees. Here, Meg will spend the fall season painting and dreaming the wild colors that express her joys, as she and Juniper await their travels to France.
Like mother, like daughter
Juniper mostly works with pencil and pen. Like her mother, she pulls primarily from the natural world. Stars and the moon are recurring motifs in her work. But unlike her mother, she also includes fantastical portraits of imaginary people.
Juniper says she always starts with a shape and then builds the drawing from there. In one piece, a girl’s face emerges from a cloud of smoke. Her long hair has the same lines as the stems and leaves her mother paints. Above the drawing are celestial bodies, giving one the feel of escape and wonder — the notion that there is a whole world out there waiting to be explored.
“We never thought we would get in,” Juniper says, reflecting on their upcoming trip. “This residency will give me a chance to build off the energy of other artists from around the world,” she continues. “I am so excited for the opportunity to explore new artistic expressions with other people. I hope my work will be challenged just from being around other artists in such a beautiful setting.”
With the trip just months away, Meg is working on several large cyanotype pieces, a style that uses blue ink printing. She plans to bring these larger works with her to France, where she will embroider hot-orange thread into the current pieces. These textured creations, Meg notes, will be a new form of expression.
Juniper is also exploring and pushing her artistic boundaries. Recently, she completed one of her first creative digital works. The project, which is printed on a large board and displayed prominently in the Cloud Cottage, is a logo for her father’s new business. She also created a time-lapse video capturing the work that went into creating the design. It shows the movements of her pen across the screen as she starts and stops various ideas, offering a behind-the-scenes look into the creative process that the public rarely gets to see.
Two years after their initial acceptance, Meg and Juniper say they are ready. Their passports are in hand. Their travel plans are made. Their goals for sightseeing in Paris are set.
“At first, we were very nervous about going,” Meg says. “But now, we are both so glad we made the commitment. We have already squeezed so much delight out of this experience and the residency is still several months away. The trip has already paid for itself.”
This article is part of our ongoing feature, Creatives in the Crowd, which focuses on local artists — both established and new. The feature spotlights unique stories and innovative artistic approaches within our creative community. Unlike much of our Arts & Culture reporting, these stories are not tied to upcoming events, exhibits or releases. The feature strives to represent a diverse range of voices, experiences and artistic mediums. If you’d like to nominate a community member for consideration, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Creatives in the Crowd.”