Interview with Madelene Antrim, An Artist of Surrealist Folk Art Dolls

Since I started creating Paperclay Sculptures I have discovered quite a few artists in Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. I started following and getting to know their art. I met Madelene on Instagram and I have become a fan of her artwork. She is so inspiring and talented. I wanted to get to know her more so I reached out to her so she could tell us about herself.

Here are the questions I've asked her during our interview:

-Where are you from? Where are you currently living? Tell us about yourself.

I live in Edina, Minnesota, just outside Minneapolis. I grew up in Mankato, a small college town in Southern Minnesota, and hopped around the country for a few years after high school, living in L.A., Moscow, ID, and St Louis, but I always came back home to Minneapolis! For most of my adult life I've lived in the city, and only just moved to the 'burbs last year. It's a little strange, to be honest, but it's also awesome in a lot of ways. 

-What is your brand and/or passion? What inspires your work?

To borrow a phrase from one of my favorite contemporaries, Amber Leilani, I create "surrealist folk-art dolls". Although I've been an artist my whole life (though not as a career, until recently), this is the medium I've stuck with the longest. My dolls are whimsical and weird, often inspired by myth and legend. Recently I've been playing with emotions, dipping my toes into processing my feelings through my work, and hoping to do some healing of grief, trauma, and insecurity. 

I'm inspired by SO many artists on Instagram, and you're one of them, Jennifer! Seriously, I'll check out one artist, and inevitably it will lead me down a rabbit hole of finding another through that page, and another, and another. I can't believe how many ridiculously talented artists are out there! 

-Will inspiration ever rule the world?

Well, maybe inspiration already does rule the world, but it's the kind of inspiration that I'd like to see changed. Wouldn't it be amazing to live in a world inspired by love, beauty, kindness, and a desire to help everyone live an authentic, honest, joy-filled life? 

-What does happiness mean to you?

Happiness is living with purpose and integrity. No one can "give" you happiness, like personal agency, it's something I believe we must create from within. On a lighter note, it's FINALLY Farmer's Market season here in MN, so happiness is also really fresh, beautiful produce (especially tomatoes) and feeling the sun on my shoulders while shopping for said produce. 

-What do you want others to know about you?

I used to be a super extroverted person, but in the last eight years I've become a super introvert! I love, love, LOVE my time alone. I was a birth worker (doula, and later RN) for most of my adult life, but when my third child died very shortly after birth, I not only lost a daughter, but my passion, and life's work. Grieving is a long process, and I know I'll never fully get over her death, and I am also learning to find joy again, growing around this hole in my heart. I'm very open about this experience, and that can freak people out, but honestly, I think it's really important to talk about death. I've considered doing death work of some sort, and maybe at some point I will. At the moment, it would require the kind of energy, time, intention, and attention I simply don't have. 

-How do you share your passion with the world?

Mostly, I share my passion through Instagram, I don't do other social media (too toxic for me, and it brings out an unpleasant side of myself which I've yet to learn to modulate). I really hope to start teaching classes sometime in the next six months, though whether they'll be online, in person, or both, I've yet to decide! 

-Where can we find you?

You can find me on....Instagram! I'm @hedgewitch_studio  And, to a computer near you, my new website. I'm really excited about the site at hedgewitchstudio.com 

-Are you currently working on a project that you don’t mind sharing?

I typically work on multiple pieces at the same time, one thing about making dolls is that while one is drying (I work with air dry clay) I can be painting another, wigging another, et cetera. I've got a mermaid in the works whose tail is causing a little consternation, but I always end up figuring it out! I'm doing a lot of hands and feet, and it's kind of awesome to experience these huge leaps in the evolution of my work and process. I'm having a lot of fun. 

-Do you do this full time or is it more of a side project?

Art is now my full-time gig. I cannot believe how fortunate I am to be able to devote my time to this! I owe it all to my husband, Todd, who has given me the incredible gift of time and space to explore and create. When I'm not in the studio, I'm parenting my soon-to-be seventh grader, Poppy, who is a super busy, super creative kid, and occasionally I get to see my adult son, Sage, who is living the busy life of a twenty-one-year-old. Usually I see him when he needs groceries. Ha!  I enjoy cooking (deciding what to cook, not as much), I listen to a million podcasts, help out my dear mother-in-law, who is an artist herself, and occasionally immerse myself in a good book. I used to read non-stop, but with my hands now occupied, it's a little harder to do. 

-What are your plans for the future?

I have NO idea what the future holds. If the last decade has taught me anything, it's that your life can change in an instant, and flexibility is crucial if you want to live with any kind of peace. Ten years ago I was working on a Masters of Nursing degree, planning on becoming a Midwife, and here I am, making art. I've thought about entering an MFA program for writing, becoming a death midwife, becoming a Humanist/Secular clergy, becoming a Celebrant (kinda clergy-lite), the mind reels! For now though, I'll be bringing up my kiddo, trying to become a better, more loving, more patient partner, friend, and mama. I want to learn how better to "show up" for people in my life, and how to show up for myself. Maybe I'll keep working on one of dozens of short stories or books I've started. I for sure want to take more walks and do more yoga. 

Here are some of Madelene's art work <3 <3 <3

I truly enjoyed getting to know Madelene, we share a lot of the same likes and her artistry is always an inspiration to me and I hope to you too.

I’ll be sharing more interviews in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned.

Love + Light

Jenn Sher ⚛️🌀💟

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