College of Charleston alumna Amanda McLenon has been named the Griffith/Reyburn Lowcountry Artist of the Year. McLenon, who received a Master of Science in Marine Biology in 2010, was awarded a $5,000 grant which enabled her to create 20 works of art to showcase and sell.
McLenon started painting as a creative outlet during graduate school. As a student at the College she spent time studying the effects of climate change on the ocean ecosystem. “My hope is that my artwork will bring a greater appreciation for both the history and natural beauty of the Lowcountry, as well as inspire active participation in their preservation.”
McLenon paints on glass to bring to life images above and beneath the sea, incorporating repurposed objects like window sashes and antique frames into her work. Her latest works tell a story—scenes include a stoic egret before it strikes, a twisting marlin as it snaps on a fly, and dynamic algae that drift silently in Lowcountry tides.
“I am a teacher and a conservationist at heart, and I want to encourage environmental action by educating and helping others see the beauty and interconnectedness of our natural world,” McLenon says. “I did it as a high school teacher, then as a marine biologist, and now through my artwork.” When applying for the award, McLenon explained that her greatest success is when adults and children come to view her artwork, identify each species and ask her questions. “That truly is my goal in all of this.”
Since graduation, McLenon has also worked part-time with Biology Professor Jack DiTullio and the DiTullio lab, and she is planning to assist as a researcher on the 2013 Antarctic Research Cruise in February. She hopes to one day start a local education program that incorporates marine biology and artistic expression for kids.
For more information, contact Amanda McLenon at 734.846.4843 or visit www.circlethestream.com.