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NYT Bestselling Artist, Graphic Journalist, and Educator

BIOGRAPHY

Wendy MacNaughton is an artist, graphic journalist and educator whose wide-ranging, boundary-pushing work is rooted in a conviction that drawing, and the careful attention it requires of us, is an essential tool for creating human connection. 

Wendy is the author-illustrator of the books How to Say Goodbyewhich grew out of her year-long artist’s residency at a pioneering California hospice facility, and Meanwhile in San Franciscoa first-of-its kind volume of visual journalism which leveraged her background in social work to chronicle overlooked and underrepresented stories hiding in plain sight in her hometown. She has also collaborated as an illustrator on numerous best-selling books, including Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat and The Gutsy Girl by Caroline Paul. She co-created and co-edited Leave Me Alone with the Recipes, a hybrid cookbook-biography which reintroduced the nearly forgotten, influential designer Cipe Pineles to new generations of foodies and artists.

As a visual columnist for The New York Times, The California Sunday Magazine and The Rumpus, Wendy spent years crisscrossing the continent in her “mobile studio” (built into the back of a Honda Element), chronicling idiosyncratic and often surprisingly poignant corners of American life, from a century-old, woman-owned knife-sharpening shop in Montana, to a community-building Black beekeeper in Oakland, to the military court proceedings at Guantanamo Bay. 

She is currently the Creator and “Drawer-in-Chief” of DrawTogether, a participatory drawing web series for kids which began, on the fly, during the earliest, most bewildering days of the pandemic and has rapidly expanded ever since. The enterprise now includes an educational nonprofit, DrawTogether Classrooms, which provides free social-emotional-learning and art curriculums to nearly 300,000 learners worldwide, and a weekly publication for adults, the DrawTogether Grown-Ups Table, which offers imaginative art exercises and wellness support to a hyper-engaged community of more than 55,000 subscribers.

In 2023, armed with nothing but a card table, two folding chairs and her own preternaturally ebullient willingness to chat up strangers on the street, Wendy launched DrawTogether Strangers, a one-woman, guerilla-style, interactive public art project which encourages pairs of random passerby to sit down, face to face, and spend a few minutes drawing portraits of each other. 

Since setting up one-day DrawTogether Strangers installations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and a handful of other cities, and by invitation at the National Gallery in Washington, DC, Wendy has encouraged a wholly organic proliferation of the concept, providing plug-and-play materials and training to enthusiastic, independent DrawTogether Strangers facilitators around the world. The project has blossomed into both a distillation and emphatic demonstration of Wendy’s core belief: that spontaneous, genuine connectedness can be sparked, even between perfect strangers, through the simple act of truly looking at one other.

Wendy has been profiled by New York Magazine, the New York Times, the TODAY show, the Atlantic, PBS, TED and NPR, among other national outlets. Her work has earned her numerous awards, grants and residencies over the past twenty-plus year and is frequently included in anthologies like Dave Eggers’ “Best American Non-Required Reading.” 

She divides her time between Oakland and New York, and learned long ago to keep the mug that she’s drinking coffee out of, and the mug full of water that she’s rinsing her paintbrushes in, clearly labeled and very far away, on separate sides of her desk.

 

Wendy MacNaughton's website

Wendy MacNaughton on Instagram

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