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Artist Madeline Glaspey Helps People 'Find Their Light' With New Cudahy Art School & Gallery

Milwaukee native Madeline Glaspey began drawing and painting at an early age. To hone her craft, she went to arts centered public schools, including Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts and Milwaukee High School of the Artsup until college. In 2013, Glaspey graduated with a BFA in drawing and painting from San Francisco’s Academy of Art University and decided to come back to Milwaukee as a professional artist.

Her specialty is in oil paint, and she's currently focused on landscapes and reimagining photographs. "A lot of times people will say [my style] looks 'impressionistic' and I actually really enjoy that description because I always am going for an impression of a moment," she says.

Glaspey has been "infatuated" with old family photographs, and fortunately has no shortage of them thanks to her father — an avid photographer.

Credit photo by Audrey Nowakowski
Madeline Glaspey's painting, "Time To Eat!" The painting is based off a photo she found in a box in her dad's office.

"Throughout my painting career, there's been things that I've grown very obsessed with and then it sort of fades away and I move on to something else," Glaspey admits. "This is an infatuation that has not subsided at all. It's just fascinating, the way you can be sort of a detective when you look at these images."

When Glaspey returned to Milwaukee after college, she continued painting and working out of her own studio. But she always felt the need to do more with her art and help connect other people with it through teaching.

"I just realized really quickly [through informal teaching] how much bigger your love for the craft and for the process can be when you're describing it fresh for someone who's never learned these things," she explains.

"I felt like I got a real gift with the education that I got," adds Glaspey. "And I also thought, what if other people want to feel this way? What if other people want this feeling of real empowerment with the brush in their hand?"

Today, her dream is realized at the Find Your Light Art School & Gallery, which is now open in Cudahy. Originally a funeral home, the space right off of East Layton Avenue is right near Cudahy's downtown. Glaspey hopes to make new memories for the neighborhood in the building that many only associated with death.

"I thought it was kind of poetic in itself to bring life into a space that's devoted to handling death," notes Glaspey. But when she first walked into the space, Glaspey says she didn't see a funeral home, "the first thing I saw were just easels in a circle."

Credit Audrey Nowakowski
The Find Your Light Art School & Gallery was once a funeral home in Cudahy.

Find Your Light is a place where people can learn how to paint and draw everything from portraiture, still life, figure, and landscape. But it's also a space where Glaspey and other artists can show their work.

"I want to make it really easy for artists to show their work because I really think there should be more spaces out there that are devoted to art," notes Glaspey.

Going from a private artist to an entrepreneur and full-time instructor has been a challenging transition for Glaspey. She says she's been nervous to do something big like this because it could take her off track.

"But it's just kind of a little off-shoot of the path that I'm on and the fact that I get to share it with other people is always what brings me back to center and reminds me why I'm doing it. Because that's what it's all about — working with other people and sharing the light, sharing the love," she says.

Credit Audrey Nowakowski
Madeline Glaspey pages through her first middle school sketchbook assignment book. She says this project helped her realize how much she enjoyed making art.

So, why the name Find Your Light? Glaspey says it's more straight-forward than you think. "Everything that we see is because light is hitting it," she notes. Plus, the phrase "find your light" was constantly used in her training at art school.

"But it's also about the students finding their own light," Glaspey adds. "It's not mine to give to them. I don't want people to paint like me, but I want them to find their own truest form of expression and find their light."

Listen to the full interview with Madeline Glaspey of Find Your Light Art School & Gallery.

Madeline Glaspey's solo exhibition “More Than A Hammer And A Nail” is currently showing at the Wright Museum of Art at Beloit College through June 28.

Audrey Nowakowski hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM in 2014.