Around the time my family and I moved to Westbrook, I was painting strictly non-representational. I wanted to refocus and find a subject that represented the environment I inhabit as a template to build my work around but was at a loss as to what to use.
Living only a block away from a still-working paper mill and passing it daily, the idea of painting it met the criteria I was seeking. After a couple attempts I was not sure if I had found my muse. Then the desire to try mixed media came to me, and with it the novel idea of painting a "paper mill" on paper. The final piece of the puzzle came together when I decided to go back to my drawing roots. Up until college I had always thought I would pursue my career in art on paper, but once I discovered painting that path changed. Now here I am 10 years down the road as a painter enjoying the best of both worlds of paint on canvas and pen on paper.
Once I got on track with my subject and how I would execute it, I started to really think about what these "mills" meant to me and the communities around them. These industrial dinosaurs dominate the landscape like modern day ruins. Although we "see" them, mostly they have become just another part of our New England landscape. Once so vital to the life blood of the towns that surrounded them, they are primarily inoperative, and many have been transformed into other uses. Expanding on this concept I also added working waterfronts into the mix of subjects.
As the United States has moved away from manufacturing jobs and into specialized technology jobs, more and more carcasses of industry break down before our eyes. In tribute to this change in our work and living environment, I feel it is important to capture all elements of what these factories brought us, from pollution and congestion, to employment, products, and community. As the era of the mill seems to be drawing to a close, I hope we can take note of its impact on us all and enjoy the beauty of man's achievements and the folly of its demise.
Neill Ewing-Wegmann, September 2010
I was born in 1979 in Belfast, Maine. At age 2 my family moved to Los Angles, California, where I lived until the age of 12 when we returned to Maine and settled in Bath. All through my life I made frequent visits to my parents' home state of Louisiana. In 1998 I graduated from Morse High School. I attended Colby-Sawyer College and majored in Graphic Design and Painting, studying under Professor John Botte. After graduating with a BFA in 2002, I moved to Portland, Maine. For many years I've worked as a graphic designer at a printing company in downtown Portland. In addition to being an artist, I love my role as both husband and father. As an artist my main goal is to create new work and to have it on public display.