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Meet Elizabeth (Libby) McFalls

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elizabeth (Libby) McFalls.

Libby, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am a practicing artist, mother, wife, Professor of Art, and the Department of Art’s Art Foundation Coordinator at Columbus State University. My husband and I moved to Columbus GA in 2007 after teaching at the University of Maine, Farmington for five years. I received an MFA in Print Media from Cranbrook Academy of Art (MI) and earned a BFA from Columbus College of Art and Design (OH).

I have a deep love of storytelling which began in childhood. Having been raised in East Tennessee, I attended the National Storytelling Festival on numerous occasions. Our summers were spent developing an appreciation for oral storytelling; my sisters and I were fortunate enough to spend a great deal of time with extended family that spread five living generations. It was normal for us to spend days visiting cemeteries and pouring through shoeboxes of photographs with our great-grandmother. While my work does not make direct reference to my family history, I believe these experiences inform the work. I broadly categorize the ideas in my work as nonlinear visual narratives that examine issues of loss and family.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There have been times in life that were certainly more difficult than others, but largely speaking, I consider myself to be fairly fortunate. I have a job that I love and a supportive spouse.

Since beginning a family, I have found the lack of time to be the biggest challenge when it comes to balancing being an artist, professor, and mother. Over the last year, I re-committed myself to my studio work and every month set a “studio schedule” for myself. I try to spend between 3-6 hours in the studio each week. It may not sound like a lot, but between work and home life, I find any designated time an accomplishment! For me, taking part in the Artist-Residency-in-Motherhood (ARIM) to be a big motivator in setting time aside for myself and prioritizing my studio practice.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
For me, parenthood changed everything. My children’s needs are first and it’s hard to remember what it felt like to have “free-time”. While this loss of part-of-my-identity can be seen as a negative, it can also be seen as a positive. Being a mother has taught me to live with and love the duality in life. The joy and the struggle. The sadness and humor. The good and the bad. I think talking about those juxtapositions allows me to connect with viewers on a more intimate level. I was so intrigued by exploring these ideas that in April 2018, I embarked on a one-year Artist Residency in Motherhood (ARIM). During the ARIM I honestly responded to my life, time limitations, successes, and failures in an intuitive nature. My hybrid prints and collages explore moments that blur the line between fact and fiction, life and death, humor and sorrow, moments that demonstrate the contradiction and complexity of life.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
As far as “good luck” goes, it was fortunate that we decided to apply for jobs at Columbus State University (and then get the jobs!). Before campus interviews, we had no idea how much Columbus had to offer. Since arriving, my husband and I, have had the good fortune of living in a community that supports (and prioritizes) the arts. We have a lovely downtown “RiverPark” Arts Campus, state-of-the-art facilities, faculty studios, and a dynamic Friends of Art group. The support we receive has helped make possible so many of my creative endeavors. If folks haven’t made it down to Columbus, they should!

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