Artist Emily Jean McPeek was born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1992 by midwife in her parents' apartment.
Much of McPeek's life has been spent in the Latino worlds in the United States. When she was two, her family moved to northern Alabama, where her parents worked in a Mexican migrant farm community (acting as organizers for human rights issues). After a brief period in Iowa, the family moved to Los Angeles for her father's work as an English professor at Mt. Saint Mary's College, and continues to work today.
Her focus on art began early. Since McPeek could hold a pencil she took to drawing cartoons which grew to comic strips in adolescence, creating her own characters. In these comics one can see the burgeoning political views regarding poverty, sexuality, and incisive criticism of religion and spirituality she has in recent comic strips.
In high school and her first year of college, McPeek spent two summers in El Salvador, working on a documentary called "Tamale Road." While there she wrote poetry and acted as photographer of the film project. She has used the photos in her own work, painting portraits of working class and the poor. She also uses themes of homelessness and injustice in her work, seen through her use of exaggeration and her own unique "surrealism."
The producers of Tamale Road commissioned McPeek to produce a series of drawings about the massacre of the village of El Mozote, El Salvador. The drawings are used in the film.
McPeek attended the University of Southern California where she studied Fine Art.
In her first year of college McPeek was an artist's assistant to her instructor, Kristin Calabrese, and her painting Family Farm was chosen to be hung in the Fisher Gallery at USC in a show primarily reserved for seniors. In her second year of college, McPeek won the prestigious Arts in Action: Momentum Award sponsored by Volkswagen. The winning piece, "Women Praying," reveals her own struggle with Tourettes Syndrome. Through this work and others, McPeek challenges the viewer to take into consideration his/her own "deformities," which, as she says, "Everyone has." In her third year of college, L.A. Market and La Guanaca Seria was asked by the Kennedy Center to be hung in the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
McPeek continues to live and paint in Los Angeles.
Copyright © 2013 Emily McPeek. All rights reserved.