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Megan Poe
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My name is Megan Poe and I’m an English (writing concentration) and Philosophy double major at Northern. My concurrent experience with being published in and interning for literary magazines has landed...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion — Its okay to outgrow your college friends
Opinion — It's okay to outgrow your college friends
Megan PoeApril 12, 2024

Not Monkeying around: NMU alumnus’ paintings featured at Ore Dock Brewing Co.


“It all started with a conversation with a friend who said ‘I feel like I’m a monkey being shot into space,’” Carter McFall said of his three paintings in the “Passenger” series.

His first painting depicts a stoic chimpanzee outfitted in a 1960s astronaut space suit, gazing into the distance with humanoid eyes.

Through the month of March, this painting and other portraits constitute “Portrait Pasty,” display shown in the upper level of the Ore Dock Brewing Co. as a part of the brewery’s monthly Artists in Rotation feature. “Portrait Pasty” is reminiscent of a weird concoction of portraits that McFall collected himself throughout his time in Marquette, he said.

McFall graduated from NMU with a BFA double majoring in philosophy, painting and drawing with a minor in Native American studies in the fall 2017 semester. His “Passengers” project was a series of paintings he created for the AD 403 course, which is supposed to prepare art students for professionalism within their career.

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Each painting in “Passengers” shows a different species of great ape—a chimpanzee, gorilla and orangutan—wearing spacesuits from Russia, China, and the United States space programs, McFall said.

“Humans divide themselves according to race, religion, land and culture, but in the end we’re all just monkeys in space,” McFall said in his artist statement for “Passengers.”

McFall’s philosophy courses instilled a deep questioning of the nature of existence in him, he reflected.

“People worry about the silliest things, like the dumb tweets politicians are making, and it seems so miniscule when you’re thinking about how we’re all going to die on a rock that’s orbiting the sun. Look at yourself, you’re a monkey in space, don’t take yourself so seriously,” he said with laugh.

He wanted people to look at his paintings and feel like they were looking in a mirror.

“Why does this monkey seem like my roommate or best friend?” McFall asked himself.

McFall humanized the ape figures, paying special attention to the eyes to make it easier for the audience to empathize with them.

“The funny thing is, the fourth classification of a primate is a homo sapien. So when you’re looking at it, you are the fourth installment of the painting,” he stated.

McFall said he loves Marquette, but he admits the difficulty of selling art in the community. A painting deserving $300 might sell for $100, he said. Currently, McFall is continuing with his teaching certificate through NMU at Marquette and Alger schools with K-5 students. With hopes to move to North Carolina someday, he said it’s a suitable location for a teaching career and better art sales.

“Portrait Pasty” has been one of the more successful exhibitions in terms of sales for McFall. He sold over $2,000 in the first week of his “Portrait Pasty” display, said Lizzie Corser, tap room and events manager at the Ore Dock Brewing Co. The brewery learned of McFall’s talent through his patronage there, and they haven’t been disappointed.
“We’ve received a ton of positive feedback from his artist reception,” she said. “Because this is a community space, we try to cultivate monthly local exhibits from regional artists.”

McFall has also produced affordable prints to make his art accessible to a larger audience. The portrait exhibit has been successful due to its familiarity and that it strikes a chord with people, Corser said.

“There’s a lot of energy to the color and techniques he uses,” Corser explained. “It’s almost like the audience can find themselves within his paintings.”

McFall added that he is not devastated about parting with the sold paintings, as their absence will only fuel him to create more.

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