Amy Boone-McCreesh’s Instagram handle is @amytothemax, and I’ve never felt compelled to ask why because the answer is so obvious—everything she does is fully and maximally “Amy.” Visiting Boone-McCreesh and Zeke, her mini Australian shepherd puppy, in their third of a narrow Parkdale studio late last year, I felt like I was sitting comfortably in a Boone-McCreesh work in progress, albeit one that came with dog kisses and very good coffee.
To maximize the walled-off section—not much larger than 15 by 15 feet—of the studio space she shares with artists Alex Ebstein and Jackie Milad, Boone-McCreesh was methodical. Several large flat files are stacked high in a corner, and an assortment of works in progress hang on the two-and-a-half remaining windowless walls. A cutting table is pushed against one working wall, and the final wall with the window has a couch under it where I, and sometimes Zeke, sat during the interview, one of us angling for a belly rub. On the floor, co-mingling with an assortment of dog toys, are colorful scraps of plastic and cut paper and something that glitters in the light, materials the artist uses in her work. In people’s studio spaces I am used to feeling their aesthetic strongly, but in this instance, with very little effort, it felt like Boone-McCreesh encased me in bright plastic.
A fixture at art openings around town since she moved to Baltimore to attend Towson’s MFA program in 2008, Boone-McCreesh’s fashion is always vibrant and often involves neon paired with fun sneakers. A friend told Boone-McCreesh that she does the opposite of the famous Coco Chanel quote, putting on one more thing before leaving the house instead of taking it off. Knowing this, it’s no surprise that her introduction into art-making was through fashion, and that, growing up in rural Pennsylvania, she made her own fashion books alongside her sister, Nichole Beard, with whom she still collaborates on her artist interview series INERTIA (Beard is the transcriber). INERTIA came out of Boone-McCreesh’s extroverted tendency to connect with other artists and learn about their studio practices. Laughing, she reveals that interviewing other artists has confirmed her suspicion “that yes, we do all have the same problems.” As another artist-interviewer, I cosign this assessment.
When she’s not in the studio or out in the community interviewing artists, Boone-McCreesh is a hard-working adjunct professor, currently serving as a senior-thesis advisor in MICA’s GFA and painting departments. In her studio, we chatted about the challenges of the shift from online learning back into the classroom last fall. Boone-McCreesh sees herself as a facilitator for her students. “I hope that part of my impression as a teacher is that if a student is having issues, [our shared goal] is to figure out the skills or ways to work around their issues, even if they have nothing to do with me,” she says. “What can we do to make this work? What are you excited about? If one person believes in them, it could mean a lot. I don’t know what their life is like. In the beginning [when I first started teaching college in 2011,] I was such a hard-ass and now I’m much more empathetic.”