Maggie Wiebe has always known she wanted to study art.
“I’ve been doing it my whole life,” she said. “My mom always says I’ve been drawing since I was 2. It’s never been a question for me that I would do something art-related, but rather what more specific art-related thing I’ll end up doing.”
She and a friend, fellow Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design graduating senior Jessie Rice, are hoping to do something that stokes their love for art and is good for the environment.
For the past year or so, the two have tended to a dye-, yarn- and paper-making garden at the Campus Farm. They have helped grow indigo, marigolds, cosmos and chamomile, as well as flax that will be used to make linen and paper.
Wiebe said she learned the arduous process from planting to harvesting to separating fibers through books and YouTube videos.
“There’s a group of little old ladies in Canada who do this, and they make these great YouTube videos on how to do it,” Wiebe said.
Their plans are to eventually purchase some land in Detroit to grow these sustainable art materials — a cooperative dye, fiber and pigment garden that is “a bigger version of what we’re already doing,” she said. “We’d set it up like a co-op where artists can volunteer a few hours a week and then use all of the plants that we grow for their art practices.”
A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, Wiebe attended the Perpich Center for Arts Education her junior and senior years of high school before being offered a Stamps Scholarship.
She said her favorite type of art is fiber-based art, such as quilting, weaving and sewing. Those techniques were behind two of her most recent works that are included as part of the annual Senior Exhibition through the Stamps School.
On display through April 30, her pieces speak to her family’s Mennonite influences. The first is a quilt made of pieces of her father’s pants and filled in with pieces of her and other family members’ clothing. The second is a towel she wove from a sweater she was wearing that would be used to wash someone’s feet — a nod to the Mennonite practice — with an accompanying video showcasing the technique.
During her sophomore year, Wiebe joined the Michigan Daily staff as the paper’s illustrator, learning to conceptualize and execute complex illustrations on tight deadlines.
While she said many of her classes and professors were impactful at U-M, the unsung heroes in the Stamps School are the studio coordinators.
“Because the art school doesn’t have departments, we have studio coordinators who take care of each studio,” she said of Nick Dowgwillo and Kit Parks. “I see them every day, and they’ve helped me a lot.”