Student Artist Spotlight: ‘Part of my identity now’: Maggie DiGrande ’21 paints scenes inspired by her hometown, college campus

Maggie DiGrande ’21 runs an Etsy shop called ‘Maggie D by the Sea.’ (Photo by Caroline Burns ’22)

After the COVID-19 pandemic cut her study of art and architecture in Italy short, Maggie DiGrande ‘21 found a way to start sharing her artwork with others.

Despite still having a painting class that continued online, DiGrande realized she needed a way to spend her time at home after she was forced to leave her study abroad program last spring. Inspired by a suggestion from her mom, she decided to start selling her artwork of scenes around the town she grew up in by printing them on items like notecards and coasters.

“I was like, ‘This is such a good way to pass the time. I am finally doing [art] for something that I want to do rather than just for a class or something,'” she said.

DiGrande began by posting her art on Facebook to gauge interest among her followers.

“I started getting positive feedback from my art which was a new thing for me…so then I continued,” DiGrande said. 

Now she runs an Etsy Shop entitled “Maggie D by the Sea.”

For her creations, DiGrande often uses oil paints, beading, paper and canvases, although recently she has explored using other materials, specifically denim. The jean jacket in particular quickly became a new facet of her business when her friends began to ask her to paint them one too, she said.

“People around school know me as the jean jacket girl,” DiGrande said. “It’s cool to see, around campus even, people that I’m not even close with will be wearing my jacket.”

And now that she is back on campus for her final year at the college, DiGrande is selling art inspired by her hometown and some new locations as well.

“[For] my capstone project last semester, I did kind of what I was used to doing. I did Lafayette scenes, but instead of the usual populated areas…during a normal semester, I did them completely empty…to show the lack of presence that was there before,” DiGrande explained.

“This semester I’m doing my honors thesis, and I’m doing it similar to last semester, but I’m working on a bigger scale, and I’m going to work with universal scenes that people know, like a carnival or a ski lodge,” she continued.

Through her artwork, DiGrande said she wants to show the “weird parallel between what used to be and what these places are now.”

While it may seem surprising, DiGrande originally came to the college with the intention of majoring in mathematics. Along the way, however, she rediscovered her love of art, which is now her major.

“I always had that love for art that I thought I was gonna overshadow, but… that’s part of my identity now,” she said.

As DiGrande wraps up her final semester at the college, she said that she does not know exactly what her career will look like, but that she will continue to pursue her art and share it with others.

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