“We would sometimes have summer days when it was light outside until well after 11:00 pm,” Maud Madsen recalls about growing up in the northern reaches of Canada. After a stint at the University of Alberta, followed by a job there as a student recruiter, Madsen decided to give herself a second chance and headed to the eastern seaboard, enrolling at the New York Academy of Art, which focuses on rigorous technical training with an emphasis on figurative and representational art. “I fell in love with the city and what the school had to offer. When I first arrived, I wanted to make work about the body and body dysmorphia. My time at the Academy had a huge impact on my work. I was constantly being pushed by advisors to consider both the formal and conceptual aspects of my work. And my peers were probably the most influential on my practice—exposing me to new artists and modes of working.” 

What next? There’s a shortage of de Medicis ready to support future Michangelos. And what are the chances of snagging a solo show at age 24 like Keith Haring, boosted by the patronage of the trendy Tony Shapiro gallery? As it turns out, NYAA, co-founded by artists like Andy Warhol who appreciated the school’s mission to teach traditional skills, left an endowment and maybe an inspiration for the Chubb Group, which annually offers three exceptional grad students a substantial fellowship, which includes studio space, an exhibition opportunity, access to studios, galleries and critics, as well as living expenses. One of the 2021 fellows is Maud Madsen, who described experiences, ranging from the daunting, “doing weekly critiques with first and second year students… I wanted to make it worth their time by providing thoughtful and insightful feedback,” to the surprising, when, “I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy being a teaching assistant… it’s fun to both be able to learn alongside the students and be able to share my knowledge,” to the gratifying, citing “the dedicated studio time. I would just spend it getting better with painting and challenging myself to work larger than I was previously comfortable with. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the other two fellows, Lydia Baker and Lujan Perez. It’s really been helpful to navigate everything post-graduation with those ladies.” This is a great opportunity for everyone involved with NYAA, and who wouldn’t want to win a prize like this? —Gwynned Vitello

Maud Madsen is currently preparing drawings and paintings for her solo project with Marianne Boesky Gallery in November, 2021.