Creating art with intention, not fluff


Growing up, attending art classes was a constant in Meg Erke’s life. But it wasn’t until she took a drawing and painting class in high school that she actually felt confident in her skills as an artist. That class was a revelation to her – it was where she learned that drawing could be taught. “I feel like there was a little switch that happened there, that I learned that this thing that seemed unreachable, was actually a skill that could be developed,” said Erke.

Teaching Art Techniques

It was knowing this that led her to become an art teacher – she wanted to help others learn techniques that would help them grow as artists. Erke commented, “Nobody expects you to walk into school and do calculus, why should art be any different? There’s just this expectation that you should be able to walk in and do it without proper instruction.”

Erke spent 10 years as an art teacher at several schools in the Minneapolis area, but now teaches private lessons out of her home studio in Howe and group lessons at various on-site locations. She describes her teaching style as instruction based, rather than project based. She explained, “It’s not that you can’t have an idea and express that. We’re not just going to make a water color for your living room, I’m going to teach you about water color techniques and layering and all of the stuff behind it so that you just don’t have a pretty thing behind your couch, you also have some knowledge.” She added, “It’s important to me that its not just fluff, there’s intention behind what’s done. Have you thought about composition? Have you thought about color choices? There’s a reason behind all of that. It’s that teacher thing, I can’t turn it off.”

A Creative Outlet

“I don’t expect everyone to come away from the classes a full-time artist, but I do hope its therapy and an outlet,” said Erke. “I think its just an important part of any culture, a healthy culture, to have a creative outlet and the tools to express yourself.”

Much of Erke’s art is inspired by the natural world, and is one of the reasons why she loves living where she does. She describes how with just a quick walk she’s in the middle of the river gorge. She commented, “If you didn’t hear the traffic, you’d never know you were in the middle of the city.”

Getting Her Art Into the World

Erke also creates her own work using mostly found objects. She is currently showing her work at Dunn Bros on Lake Street and will also be a part of the Lola art crawl at Junket. Getting her work out into the world is one of her personal goals as an artist. “I just want it to be seen… I just want to be out there,” she said.

But marketing and promoting her work doesn’t come easy for her. “There are people that are really good at marketing their stuff, and that’s great,” she said. “For me, it doesn’t come naturally. I think for women specifically there’s this thing about women who make things in their home, and it just sort of stays there. I want it to be more than just what I do hidden upstairs in my house.”

Breathing New Life Into Old Material

Erke’s currently is working in painting and booking binding, and enjoys using found materials for her work. The collage and painting work she does on windows is a series that she started about a year and a half ago. The windows were Craigslist finds. The tree bark is made from old pages of books – a remnant from her book binding classes.

When asked what’s next, Erke commented, “I feel like I’m in this really magical spot where pretty much everyone who’s taking lessons from me wants to…. It’s a good place to be.”

View the Artwork/Take a Class

Erke’s artwork is on display at Dunn Bros. (4648 E. Lake Street). It will also be on display at Junket (4047 Minnehaha Ave.) during the LoLa Art Crawl, August 25th-26th.

Erke teaches private lessons, group lessons and workshops, and also leads art parties. Find out more at her website Upstairs Art.

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