Xanda McCagg is an abstract artist whose mixed media and oil paintings, according to Jacquelyn Tuerk, Professor of Art History at Kean University, appeal to the human scale, inviting close observation and intimacy. Her paintings range in size from as large as 50 x 50 inches to as small as 5 x 5 inches. It is the juxtaposition of bright and vibrant thick paint with the thin washes of muted earth tones on the canvas that creates an emotional response from the viewer. One feels the depth of space continually shifting, “leading the viewer from one spatial experience into a wholly different one and back again.” The sensation is “of walking into an alternative world of palimpsest forms, where imagination challenges perception.”
At Dana, Xanda met some of her dearest and closest friends who are still an important part of her life today. The faculty in the art department was very encouraging and she enjoyed taking photography courses. Xanda credits her advisor Mr. Lawrence as making a big difference in her life. Sculptor Louise McCagg, Xanda’s mother, also went to Dana and graduated in 1955. Her sculpture The Grandmother Steps, donated for Dana’s Centennial, is located outside of the Dining Center.
After Dana, Xanda graduated from Boston University with a BFA in Art Education and a K-12 art teacher’s certificate. She felt that her classical art training at Boston University was invaluable. At the Boston Museum School, she studied stained glass and afterwards worked as an assistant to a stained glass restorer at the Clerkin Higgins Studio in Brooklyn, NY. Xanda has designed and fabricated stained glass windows for houses in New York and Connecticut and still does some commissioned work.
In 1993 and 1995, Xanda was an artist in residence at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT, the largest and most international artists’ and writers’ residency program in the United States. She feels that artistic retreats are very important for professional development. Artists are able to concentrate on new work and make connections with colleagues.
After graduation from college to the present day, Xanda has taught art at various schools. She has designed and taught a program of developmentally sequenced lessons on painting and drawing at Creative Arts for Kids in Reading, MA, given guided tours of current exhibits for groups of children with art lessons inspired by the exhibit at the Bronx Museum, taught art for grades 10-12 at Xavier High School in New York and is presently teaching drawing, painting, and collage in the visual arts program at the New School in New York.
In addition to teaching at the New School, Xanda offers classes in her studio located in Chelsea, NY. She is about to launch a new business, Art Introductions, art tours and events with a social twist. Xanda enjoys the balance of working half the time painting in her studio and half the time working outside of her studio in art-based activities. Her studio is open for visits but by appointment only.
Xanda has had numerous solo and selected group gallery exhibits. The Sideshow Gallery in Brooklyn, NY, held a group exhibition of her work and her mother’s from January 21 through March 6, 2006. Xanda’s paintings are part of numerous private collections as well as the Alliance Capital Management Collection.
Visit the Dana Hall Art Gallery between April 3 and May 20, 2006, to see an exhibition of Xanda’s paintings and her mother Louise’s sculptures. Don’t miss the opportunity to meet Xanda at the reception on Tuesday, May 20, from 4-6 p.m. Visit her website to view a large selection of her paintings.