Associate Professor of Painting and Drawing Margi Weir will Retire on January 1, 2023

The Art Department would like to recognize Associate Professor Margi Weir for her outstanding contributions to our students and to the Wayne State community. Weir joined the faculty in 2009, relocating to Detroit from Placitas, New Mexico. She earned her MFA in painting from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and MA in painting from New Mexico State University. She received a BFA in painting from San Francisco Art Institute and a BA in Art History from Wheaton College, Massachusetts.

Career Highlights

Weir has been widely recognized for her work and she has exhibited throughout the country. As described in her artist's bio, her work "calls upon figurative arrangements and presents them in a tapestry-like fashion; the juxtaposition of elements creates unique pleasing patterns, blurring-but not hiding- socio-political and ecological themes." Weir has won numerous awards for her work, including a 2016 Best of Show Grand Prize at the Las Vegas Contemporary Art Center as well as a 2015 Best of Show award in the Human Rights Exhibition, South Texas College, McAllen, TX.

Image of solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Community College Gallery in Omaha, Nebraska

An early, pivotal moment for Weir was her first solo show in New York City at the renowned OK Harris Gallery in 2003. "It remains a highlight, although it was 20 years ago, because I was able to work with the legendary art dealer, Ivan Karp, at his SOHO gallery." Another significant career highlight for Weir was showing her work in the 2013 group show Hypertension, at the Elaine Jacob Gallery. "The gallery gave me the opportunity to do the largest color vinyl and painting installation that I had done to date and it opened doors to future work," she says. She received two Puffin Foundation Grants: one in 2019 for work titled Justice in America and one in 2017 for work on gun violence in America. In 2020, Weir was awarded a CFPCA Creative Research Award for her project Fencing the Garden.

Fiscal Forecasting from the Hypertension exhibition at the Elaine Jacob Gallery (2013)

Last month, Weir was a finalist for the Hopper Prize for her piece Three Dancers and Ingres' Violin. The work is from the Pandemic Painting Lessons Series which was created during the pandemic when she was streaming posing models to students working at home, who were, in turn, viewing the models on their phones, tablets, or computers. "The series addresses the way that interactions were mediated by some device during the pandemic, bearing witness to that convoluted process." She is well known for her solo exhibition Bearing Witness, which, since 2017, has travelled across the country at various universities and galleries. Bearing Witness is currently on view at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha NE. The exhibition includes work from her series The Politics of Hue as well as work about the topic of gun violence, Justice in America, and new work from the Pandemic Painting Lesson Series.

Three Dancers and Ingres' Violin, from the Pandemic Painting Lessons Series

Building a Mural Movement to WSU

Weir believes that the Mural Painting class that she created will define her career at WSU and she hopes to see it grow and flourish. "I certainly hope that this class continues after I retire," she says. "It's a course that unites the painting students with other disciplines in the University and with the broader Detroit Community. It has given the mural painting students a rare collaborative experience and a professional opportunity to develop a community mural."

Student artists at the unveiling of the Lyft mural on Noel Night in Detroit (2019)
From left to right: Ephemera Fae, Saylem Celeste, Roy Sproule, Inna Golavita, and Elizabeth Maddens

Teaching Philosophy and Legacy

When reflecting on her approach to teaching, Weir believes that her students have gained a deep understanding of materials and to approach materials with a sense of exploration and innovation. "I tend to think of myself as a collaborator with my materials," she says. "My teaching has emphasized that, which can lead to more innovative use of materials. In the classes that I developed, I introduced and encouraged the use of lesser known materials and methods in painting and drawing, like encaustic painting, pastel painting and using poured epoxy resin. She believes that traditional methods and materials can also be explored in new and innovative ways. "When I teach traditional techniques, I encourage students to think about each material in a broader sense so that they can consider non-traditional applications. For example, the wet, drippy, splashy aspect of water media is not something that must always be controlled but can, at times, be used for just those qualities."

Beyond her curricular and pedagogical accomplishments, Weir hopes that students can take away value from her multitude of experiences over the duration of her career. "I hope my students have learned by my example to continue to take risks in their own work," she says. A studio practice can grow and change over a lifetime and continue to be a very rewarding endeavor."

Retirement will offer new possibilities for Weir to continue to build her legacy as an artist. She is very much looking forward to being a full-time artist and traveling with her husband.


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