What initially drew you towards becoming an artist?
Since I was young, I had always enjoyed drawing, colouring and creating. I would often look at a Disney character’s picture and draw from the image I was viewing. From there, I often drew from reality. It wasn’t until I studied overseas in university that my style shifted and I began creating works inspired by Abstract Expressionism.
You mention that attending university and studying art has led to a change in creative style, how did that come about?
December 2005, marked a turning point in my artwork. I had received an academic scholarship to complete an art history course in Berlin, Germany. The course required the students to visit at least 2 museums or galleries per day and listen to the lecturer. At the end of the course the students would have to write a paper and create a presentation about a work that the students had researched from any of the museums.
During our time exploring the magnificence of Berlin, we had seen and breathed in an actual Munch original only inches from our brautwurst covered and beer-stenched fingers, stood lethargically in front of the Pergamon Altar, gazed up at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church remains for World War II and many more breath-taking relics.
As we hopped, skipped and jumped to every museum and church throughout Berlin admiring the infamous works of art and notable architecture, it wasn’t until we stepped in the Neue Nationale Gallery that my world would change. There it hung in all its glory, Atelier!
Hanging on the large gallery walls, Atelier, a modern, vibrantly colored triptych painting by Gerhard Richter, commands the room. Since taking my breath away and filling my eyes with tears with a euphoric epiphany, which I did not fully understand at the time, I realised I would have to further investigate.
At that moment, my process of creating artwork would forever be changed. A passion for Abstract Expressionism had been ignited and became the beginning of true self-exploration and how colour is a key component in my work. This introduction spiked my curiosity and interest, and I began to research and read about artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Susan Rothenberg, Larry Poons, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner and many more.
As a result of this artistic epiphany, do you receive support / mentorship on this journey of discovery from anyone, such as fellow artists / teachers?
Ron Snapp, who was my painting studio professor and mentor, noticed a significant shift in the production of my work after being introduced to Abstract Expressionism. Snapp, a 35 year tenured professor at Old Dominion University, and an artist himself, bluntly shared that prior to studying in Germany, my work was colourfully bad. After discovering Richter’s work, Snapp said it was as if someone had switched the light on and my work quickly transitioned to work with depth and was becoming good.
How did much influence did Professor Snapp have on the evolution of your artwork? Did he guide you in that direction or was his role focused more on critiquing your work afterwards?
Snapp, graciously finesse guidance, yet never telling them what to produce, observed the sudden shift in the production of my work. However, he did not acknowledge the developments immediately. He had wanted to see if the changes were temporary or if the work would further develop. To his delight, the investigations and development of the work proceeded.
Semesters later while studying in my senior year at Old Dominion, some fellow students, Snapp and I were openly chatting about the production of art and Snapp chose this moment to light-heartedly share his thoughts about my work. At first, I was shocked that he had been so brazen about my previous work being awful, but his kind-hearted chuckle diminished the feelings of in-adequateness quickly.
I must add a big, “Thanks!” to all my classmates and Snapp for enduring my singing while creating in the back corner of the painting studio.
As an artist taking on the responsibility of finding your artistic voice, were there points along the way where you knew you were heading in the right direction creatively? If so, what were the signs that encouraged you to keep going?
Leopold was the first abstract painting that I produced after my visit to Germany. I remember planting myself on a can of paint and stroke after stroke, I had started to play with texture and building the paint on the canvas. I remember the feeling vividly. It was a feeling of freedom and the desire of having controlled floated away.
Later used in my senior exhibition and became a piece of interest to one of the English professors at Old Dominion University. He eventually adopted and gave it a nice home where he could display it in his living room.
Francis, a painting that was displayed during my senior show, was acknowledged as my most successful painting of my show by my professor and mentor Frederick Bayersdorfer. Though there were two separate canvases that created the whole piece. Bayersdorfer was more particular to the right canvas with yellow background and snake-like image that appeared in the foreground. From his admission, I began to explore and experiment with this style of painting and thus began a series of these images that lasted for around five years.
Which of your artworks are you most proud off?
Francis, has become a popular piece with men more so than women. It, like other images of the works from the series, has been used as the designs on music album covers and other event advertisements.
Some of the images from the series appeared in my first exhibition in New York at Agora Gallery. Frannie, Gerhard and Siegfried graced the walls of the group exhibition and James was used in some of the press releases and other promotional work for 2009 January show.
Are there particular artists that you admire? If so, why and how have they influenced your current works?
Artists I have learned to greatly admire, well at least their work not necessarily their lifestyle choices were Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Robert Rauschenberg, Séraphine Louis, William DeKooning, Gerhard Richter and most recently added have been Olafur Eliasson, Xul Solar and artwork from the Aborigine communities. The artists used vibrant colours and experimented with incorporating unconventional objects and techniques that would not be found in traditional forms of artwork.
Jackson Pollock chose to use oil paint from cans which possessed a fluid-like quality that made it easier to drip, throw and splatter paint across the canvas. When I was younger my opinion of this technique, was laziness and these painted splattered canvases could not be considered art. I was young and naïve and drawing and paintings that were not technically challenging and aesthetically resembling realism, in my eyes, could not be considered fine art. However, after discovering Gerhard Richter, my views and opinions changed, hence the shift in the production of my work and selection of materials.
Rauschenberg also captured my interest. It was refreshing and an intriguing experience in the attempt of applying objects to the paintings and altering their physical states. When I was creating work, flirting with Rauschenberg’s approach, I created a series where broken glass and mirrors could be found in the work. This altered the appearance of the work depending where one stood, the time of day and what light would reflect on the painting.
DeKooning, with his approach, lured me into his execution of art production. I admitted I had to research and read about his art philosophies and why he made certain artistic decisions. The series he did on women was fascinating to me and in one light, they did not seem to be female because of their masculinity, but in the other they seemed to embrace femininity. This kaleidoscope of change intrigued me and influenced to play with the creation of figures in my work. Most have a female figure with curves, but also possess androgynous qualities as well.
In addition to Gerhard Richter’s beautiful collection of stimulating Abstraktes Bild, in German meaning abstract pictures, which have stolen my heart. Olafur Eliasson’s captivating installations have also taken space in my heart. I view Eliasson’s installations as if he has given Richter’s paintings a physical form. Though after further investigation a distinction exists between the artists, I also seem some similarities.
I believe culture and past associations of events that occur in one’s life shapes an individual, either to explore and become different from what they know or embrace and hold tight on to everything they have been taught. Since Richter is German and Eliasson is Icelandic-Danish, I see similarities in their approaches to art. Languages, which a part of one’s culture, influences the thought processes and since both artists’ language is Germanic in nature that may affect their approach to creating art.
Outside of the works and philosophies of other artworks, are there other elements that have shaped your creativity?
Further adding to my appreciation for Richter and Eliasson and why I mention language and culture are because these elements inspire the production of my work. Art does not solely exist for aesthetic purposes, but are also forms of communication.
Artists are not the only people who inspire my work. A great deal of my work is influenced by traveling and facing the challenges of language and cultural practices that may be foreign. From these experiences learning and observing how people approach cognitive thought is intriguing and has become the foundation for my work. Another inspiration contributing to my work would be the study of psychology.
This science in conjunction with observing a people’s cultural practices and languages are the primary foundations for my work. “The Brain That Changes Itself,” by Dr. Norman Doidge, MD, is a book that had furthered my interest in psychology. Dr. Doidge’s assessment of how the brain functions in collaboration with the chemical constitution and neuroplasticity of the brain had me questioning how the brain approaches thought.
When presented with a painting and how it is interpreted is dependent on how one may perceive color, shapes, sizes and inanimate objects from past experiences, one’s surroundings and the chemical composition of the brain. When the brain is confronted with obstacles and challenges, all the prior mentioned elements spark my fascination and result in assemblage of my work.
How would you describe your current artwork?
Organized chaos would be an appropriate description for the appearance of my paintings. However, let’s further explore alternative motives to the creation of the work.
Time and time again I am asked for an explanation and the motivation that is responsible for execution of my work. I generally respond with, “They are psychological landscapes.”
Since being introduced to the world, we are presented and exposed to a plethora of information. This information is then internalized, processed and stored. From this stored information we refer to our past experiences and associate them to the experiences we are currently encountering. Our perspectives are then manipulated by opinions, prejudices and beliefs that our subconscious has altered by referencing our past associations.
My paintings are intuitive fabrications.
Hence, my intentions for how the viewer perceives my work is irrelevant. The viewer is free from the constraints of my intentions and is instead freely allowed to let their past associations influence their perception of my paintings.
In addition to further influence the viewers’ perspective, I use names intended for people to title my work. As a result, the viewer is further pushed to refer back to their prior experiences to provide a response.
An example of this would be if the painting were titled, “Mike,” and the viewer had a wonderful experience with someone named Mike, they would then have the probability of extracting the positive qualities of the work. Therefore, having a positive response to the work. Whereas if their encounter with someone named Mike were negative, would then theoretically result in a contemptuous response.
In short, the work is in the absolute control of how much the viewer permits their past to influence the perspective of the present.
To view Meghan's full collection click - The Online Art Gallery of Meghan Oare