Strong Stories: Artist June Glasson portrays women as they really are — strong, active and in control

By on February 7, 2018


Join June Glasson at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, February 7 for an artist talk and tour of her Teton Artlab residence studio.

The women in June Glasson’s paintings aren’t passively reclining on a couch or shyly looking at the at the viewer.

“I like active, strong women that are presenting themselves to the world and have something to say and have a story to tell,” the artist said.

Glasson, a multi-media artist from Laramie and a founder of the Wyoming Art Party, is in Jackson as a resident at Teton ArtLab this month. She’ll work in the studio, seek inspiration in the community and offer an artist talk and studio tour at 6 tonight at the Teton Artlab.

Glasson works across a variety of mediums, from painting with oil on paper, to creating installations and sculptures, but always returns to portrait painting.

“There is something very intimate and personal about painting a picture of someone,” she said. Painting a portrait is not like taking a photo. A portrait will never be exact and only just a likeness.

“I can always come back to portraiture because I’m always challenged by it,” she said.

Glasson works from photographs she creates in photo shoots. She often requests models bring props, a tradition that started after a session in her 20s where Glasson’s friends played dress-up for the camera. It makes the images more interesting, but also allows the models to share something about themselves and gives them agency in telling their story in the painting, Glasson said. It’s also a practice that has changed Glasson’s artistic style.

Glasson grew up in New York and lived in Berlin and Bangkok before her partner received a residency offer, which eventually turned into a full-time job for him, at the University of Wyoming in 2010.

The models at one of Glasson’s first photo shoots in Laramie unexpectedly brought guns, antlers and western costumes as their props. Western themes trickled into her paintings without Glasson consciously deciding to create work about the West.

Today the West, and its history, permeate her art, particularly in her paintings.

“There are these popular images and iconic ideas about the American West — like there’s this narrative of the lone cowboy on the empty landscape, but we know the landscape was never empty,” she said. “It’s not that the cowboy isn’t an important story, but I’m also interested in what stories aren’t being told. History is much more complicated and messy than what we initially see when we talk about the West.”

While at a residency in Pinedale, Glasson spoke with women working at the Museum of the Mountain Man about western expansion and the romantic notions that still surround the idea of the mountain man. There are even “tests” today where people can “become an authentic mountain man,” she said.

That museum visit inspired work that explored authenticity and white western masculinity.

It’s the first time in her career her work is place-based, Glasson said. And even though she’s lived longer in Wyoming than any other place in her adult life, her work still has an outsider’s lens.

“Wyoming is home in so many ways, but it’s also exotic, so there is a little bit of that tension for me as an artist,” she said.

Glasson wants her work to tell a story, whether it’s about an individual, a place or a landscape. She often paints women and likes her work to challenge notions on how women should be seen and behave. She tells her models to act “unladylike,” which really means she wants them active and powerful.

Glason also wants her work to empower other people to make their own images and tell their own stories, she said.

Glasson plans to focus on painting while in Jackson, but she is often working on multiple projects at the same time. She’ll show her studio and talk about her work tonight at Teotn Artlab. PJH

June Glasson, Teton Artlab artist in resident, 6 p.m. artist talk and studio tour, Teton Artlab



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