I was born and raised in South Africa; immigrated to Canada in early 1970s. Then went to the USA for my undergraduate and MA studies in English. Once settling in Alberta, I completed a PhD. At the University of Calgary. Currently I have duel roles as a professor and administrator at Burman University in Lacombe, AB. Over the summers, I have taken art classes at Red Deer College.
Since 1998, McDowell’s work has participated in many solo exhibitions, including: Red Deer & District Museum; Fringe Gallery, Edmonton AB; Rasmussen Art Gallery, Angwin, CA, USA; Brandstater Gallery, La Sierra, CA, USA. Group shows include: Marro Gallery, Calgary, AB; Travelling Exhibition to Stony Plain, Lethbridge, Edmonton & Calgary AB; Ruberto Ostberg Gallery, Calgary; ASA Members’ Exhibitions.
Public Collections include: Burman University Library; Alberta Foundation for the Arts Pacific Union College, Angwin CA; and Shell Canada. Member of Alberta Society of Artists 2020 (ASA) & elected into the Sculptors Society of Canada in 2022. McDowell’s practice is based in Lacombe AB.
I believe that one of the primary functions of art is that it provides a visual space of opportunity. An opportunity to consider, via both thought and feeling, new or differing registers of imaginative engagement. There is, for the viewer, an opportunity for generosity, even a form of hospitality that can delight, challenge, provoke, calm—that is, art is creates within the viewer a space for a range of activities as a relationship develops between the work and the viewer. Not all spaces are, of course, created equal for all viewers. As with most any relationship, it matters both what “the work” brings and what the viewer brings. The trigger is a willingness to engage.
In my work, be it in metal, wood or mixed media, I endeavor to bring together, to marry as it were, the absorbent joys of physical form with reference and allusion to physical realities of being in the world: the material physicality, the problems of being in the where and how of this time. I pivot between anxiety given the persistent streaming of calamity, brokenness, and suffering and the evidence of art’s call to order, wholeness, and beauty: the redemptive possibilities and potentialities. I create spaces for interplay and contemplation.