While many artists dream of pursuing their passion full-time, for most creatives the reality is that life gets in the way, leading to stolen moments of painting after work, sculpting on weekends or sketching late at night after the rest of the family is tucked into bed. The struggle is real.

Like any good mom, Methuen’s Jennifer Loiselle has her share of challenges when it comes to following her artistic passion while bringing up two children, yet she manages to fill her days with creativity while also sharing her enthusiasm for art with the community.

Loiselle recognized the therapeutic nature of art at an early age.

“I didn’t have a traditional childhood,” she shares. “As a young child in foster care, I discovered that art was a great escape. You can make art anywhere, with no special tools. I remember drawing in the sand with a stick.”

At age 9, her new adopted mother almost instantly saw her artistic talent and enrolled her in private art classes.

“A local art teacher offered classes in everything from drawing and painting to crafts like paper mâché,” Loiselle says. “I wish that every kid had that opportunity.”

Growing up in Rhode Island, Loiselle was fortunate to take part in the Rhode Island School of Design’s Young Artists program during her high school years. As her passion for art grew, her parents encouraged her to continue to hone her art skills but to pursue a more grounded career path.

“I earned a degree in communications and sociology at UMass,” she says. “But when you are creative, you never lose that passion. I always managed to incorporate art in whatever I did.

“I have been teaching art in many forms for the past 20 years,” she says.

Before she moved to Methuen, Loiselle had a series of jobs that offered her the chance to use her creative skills.

“I worked at for a city recreation department and a nursing home, and also had a weekly arts and crafts table at the Everett farmers market, where kids could stay busy while their parents shopped,” she says. “It turned into a weekly class, where the same kids came back every week. Everything I did seemed to spiral into yet another opportunity.”

In 2017, Loiselle and her family relocated to Methuen.

“I worked in the after-school program, where we had some really fun projects for the kids,” she says.
 

When her son was born, she took a break, then eased back into the workforce with a position at the Water Department. “Then I heard about an opening at the Methuen Senior Center as activity coordinator. I felt as if I had been waiting my whole life for a job like that. I applied and prayed that they would hire me.”

She got the job.

“Everyone at the Senior Center has been so welcoming and receptive,” she says. “I get to host a craft class every month, which is really fun for everyone. My job is to organize the classes in painting, ceramics or whatever interests people. I also have opportunities to teach classes. I am so grateful for this position, and I hope that the seniors enjoy it as much as I do.”

When Loiselle first moved to Methuen, she surveyed the area and its access to art for citizens, especially for children and seniors.

“I instantly noticed the lack of outdoor public art,” she says. “The Somerville/Everett area where I had lived was full of outdoor murals and colorfully painted items like utility boxes, and I wondered what I could do to help bring some of this creative vibe to Methuen.”

In 2019, Loiselle crossed paths with painter and art lover Dianne Moore and graphic designer John Hadley and a conversation began about how Methuen could reach the level of other cities with the use of public art. They approached the City Council and the mayor about the possibility of starting an organization to bring together local artists, both to create public art and to achieve their own individual goals, and Methuen Artists Unite was born. The mission of the group is to create a supportive community for artists, fostering creativity and collaboration and providing a platform to share ideas and artwork.

MAU has since made its mark around the city in a variety of ways. In 2019, over 100 people came together to create Methuen’s first outdoor community mural by painting a series of small squares that, when pieced together, became a 30-foot-by-5-foot work of art unveiled in Riverwalk Park on Methuen Day that year. Three years later, when the original canvas squares began to show signs of age, the mural was remastered digitally and handprinted onto panels. This new version of “The Beauty of the World Lies in the Diversity of its People” will very soon be installed in a new, yet-to-be-determined location in the city.

The group has also been instrumental in other initiatives, including a mural in City Hall outside the Veterans Office, a trash-can art project, a string-art project at the 2023 Methuen Day, and the very first paint-decorated utility box which Loiselle painted, located across from the Central Fire Station on Lowell Street. Stay tuned for more!

In her home studio, Loiselle surrounds herself with art supplies and dives in to explore her creativity whenever she is able.

“I love all forms of art,” she says. “Currently, I have been painting with acrylics, and using a variety of tools and everyday items to do what is called scrape painting, where you drag the tool across the paint to create texture and style. I might use a squeegee, a knife or even a piece of dried pasta. It’s mostly about colors for me right now, and abstract designs. And the recent eclipse inspired me to work on a series of celestial paintings.”

Loiselle also has a resin jewelry line, works in mosaics and sometimes builds a birdhouse or two.

“Art is therapeutic for me,” she says. “And I love to pass this passion on to others. When you find something as fundamental as creating art, you want to share it. My purpose in life is to spread joy through art.”

So far, she seems to be on the right path.

 



Patricia Bruno is a Methuen native, currently living in Haverhill. A writer and photographer, she is also the owner of The Winged Rabbit gift shop in downtown Haverhill.