Miriam McAuley grew up in East Africa surrounded by diverse, beautiful tribes. Through this experience she gained an appreciation and respect for learning about people and their cultures. From the time she could hold a crayon, she was drawing scenes from her life and imagination. She also had a love of photography passed down from family members who inspired her to capture life on film when she couldn’t draw it quickly enough. Most of her drawings and photographs celebrate people and through her drawings she hopes to communicate to others their inherent worth and the beauty of their diversity.
Knowing that she wanted to return to Africa to live and work, McAuley studied at Dordt College in northwestern Iowa, receiving a BA in fine studio arts, as well a minor in psychology. She believed the combination of these disciplines would be useful in cross-cultural work. One of her goals after university was to travel, especially to places where she could use her new camera. She has done just that - a semester in the Middle East, a summer in Italy, and visits to her home in Africa provided some of these opportunities. From 2014-2016, she settled amongst a very traditional people, the Samburu of northern Kenya. Joining in the arts of the Samburu, through many hours spent threading beads and asking questions, McAuley strove to learn how art communicates culture and affirms the beauty of her Samburu neighbors. She also discovered that drawing came in handy in language study as she sketched pictures to help her gain vocabulary. From drawing her new friends to photographing their colorful world, McAuley delighted in interacting cross culturally through her art. McAuley is currently living in Illinois, preparing to begin a one-year artist residency in North Africa. While there, she hopes to learn more about the traditional art forms of a new culture, as well as spending time developing her own artistic skills. McAuley's work is available for purchase in our BCA gift shop.