Artist/Author Meagan Meehan is gearing up for a very busy season with various exhibitions all throughout New York. In addition to gallery shows, Meagan is also preparing three solo shows and an international tour of some of her pieces beginning in January. We caught up with Meagan to discuss her love of abstract art, the process of creating art using unique materials, her award winning sculpture, the importance of art in education, where she finds her inspiration and her passion for writing as well.
EV: Welcome to Entertainment Vine, Meagan. To begin let’s talk about life as an artist. What are some things that inspire you that are specific to New York?
Meagan: I am inspired by colors, abstract art, nature, jewelry and anything that is pretty, shiny and joyful. I’m also inspired by illustrators and animation. I’m a writer and a published children’s book author so I find myself completely enamored by the ability that illustrators have to breathe life into text through their amazing visual contributions. As per location, New York is such a lively city that is full of places to go and things to do. My parents are big fans of abstract art so I’ve been visiting museums since I was really little. Growing up around all different kinds of art and entertainment just influenced me in general.
EV: Who are some local artists that you admire?
Meagan: I am fortunate enough to work as a journalist so I have the opportunity to meet and interview many artists. It’s a great way to make connections and see the work of contemporaries. I’ve been strongly inspired by the ladies of the Sculptors Alliance and the Society of Women Artists–Anne Stanner, Yasmin Gur, Stephanie S. Lee and Sheila Kriemelman…just to name a few. Martina Mrongovius is an artist who works with holograms and runs the Holocenter which comes to Governors Island in the summer. Her work is inspiring as well as that of the artists she showcases like Paul Roustan. I like artists who work in unusual mediums; Roger Kay makes these amazing “reverse glass paintings.” His work is phenomenal. I’m also inspired by Reine Emeish who owns the Demouzy Gallery in Rockville Center that represents me; she does a lot of work on silk. Christopher Hart Chambers, Sir Matthew Thompson and Jacqueline Ferrante of A.I.R. Gallery are also super talented as is Frank Olt who taught me ceramics when I was in college. The closest artist to my own work is definitely the amazing Christybomb. She understands my love of glitter and sequins and the value that can be had from mixing media!
EV: I love your artist statement. Would you share it with our readers and talk about the importance of finding that balance?
Meagan: My artist statement reads:
I am an abstract artist whose work is bright and colorful. My work aims to combat the darkness and negativity in the world by showcasing cheerfulness, playfulness, creativity and imagination. If someone looks at my art and smiles then it has fulfilled its purpose.
I use my art as a means of bringing joy to the world. I love the idea of making something that is unique and different and that previously only existed entirely in the world of imagination. I see my work as being a means of capturing creative thoughts and displaying them to the world as a kind of colorful and joyful present to global society as a whole.
EV: What are some of your favorite pieces that have uplifted you either in the process of creating it or with the finished piece?
Meagan: My favorite pieces–by far–are a set of three illuminated wall hangings that I did for the South Street Gallery in Greenport, Long Island, in 2015. Every year the gallery puts on a “10 x 10” show for charity where each artist is provided with a 10 inch x 10 inch wooden board which can be decorated any way they want. Each artist can exhibit up to three pieces which are sold for $100 and the proceeds from sales are split between the artist, the gallery and an environmental organization. I’ve been partaking in the show since 2012 and decided to “build up” and make my boards three dimensional via the use of much mixed media. Two of the three pieces sold there in 2012–they were my first sales ever! I have since sold several more pieces and enjoy this particular show immensely. Last year I decided to add lights which worked beautifully. I coated each board with glitter and all of them feature black and white with a third color; even their names correlate to one another. The red one is called “Harlequin’s Prosperity,” the green one is “Clown’s Wealth” and the blue one is “Joker’s Fortune.” They are very bright and luxurious looking so I was delighted with the results. I was actually happy when none of those three boards sold since I’ve gone on to exhibit them in galleries in Manhattan and Nassau County and they are currently on display at Governors Island courtesy of the Sculptors Alliance. I’ll be making three more illuminated ones this year–just in different colors (pink, orange and purple) and with a different theme. They will be on display at the South Street Gallery from November 2016 thru January 2017.
EV: You work in a lot of different mediums. When beginning a project do you create something from the items on hand, or do you envision the final piece and search out your materials?
Meagan: Both, actually. Sometimes I get an idea for a piece and seek out the materials to make it work. Other times I will see an object and immediately form an idea for how it could work in a painting or a sculpture. I can find inspiration pretty much anywhere.
EV: What kind of art are you developing right now?
Meagan: I am most interested in developing works in my “Perception Collection,” these are abstract pieces made from paint, pencils and/or other mixed media that can be viewed from 360 degree angles. There is no up, down, left or right–it’s all a matter of perception. You can even view them diagonally! I also have some art that I use as a game where I hide things–such as tiny images of world flags–within the piece and then the viewer has to find them within the abstractions. Those are part of the “Perception Collection” too but they add an extra layer of fun–kind of like an abstract “I Spy” game.
EV: Your award winning (Dr. Seuss inspired) sculpture “Flowing Eternally” weighed in at 16 pounds. When working on such a large piece how did you manage the project from start to finish?
Meagan: Honestly, I made this piece when I was in college and taking a ceramics class at LIU’ CW Post campus… The class is run by the great Frank Olt–who is still teaching there–and he was really encouraging of my interest in abstract art. While other students were making vases and such he gave me permission to work on odd little sculptures instead… sculptures that eventually ended up in galleries. I started working on “Flowing Eternally” since there was a lot of scrap clay around. I gathered it up and formed a huge mass that probably weighed a little over 20 pounds. I put it on a pottery wheel and started sculpting it. I had no idea what it was going to turn out like but I had a great time making it. I started it in April but didn’t finish it until July. The class actually ended in May but Frank was nice enough to let me come in during the summer to work on it! I managed the project as I went along. First, I just carved out the shape over about a week. I was also mindful to hallow out the center so it didn’t explode in the kiln. Then I smoothed it over and added the lines. Finally, I painted it and then had it fired in the kiln so it came out having a glazed effect–at which point it was ready to be introduced to the world!
EV: What are some lessons you learned while working on “Flowing Eternally”?
Meagan: Mainly, I learned patience and pacing. Artists have to let the work speak to them. Keep working it on until a little voice tells you to “stop.” It’s impossible to explain to people who are not artists but when a piece is done you just know it’s finished.
EV: Abstract art offers countless opportunities to create just about anything you wish. What are some unconventional materials that you would like to try working with?
Meagan: I have to start working with polymer clay, resin and foam more. I’m also determined to make kinetic art and a fountain using motors. Regarding materials, I would like to try working with glass, fiberglass and plaster. I know none of those are really “unusual” but they are mediums I have yet to truly explore. The most unusual mediums I work with are nail polish and car paint. I actually also design/decorate shoes (and jewelry and handbags and my own nails, etc.) and I use nail polish on them A LOT! And I would love to start working with holograms soon; I greatly admire holographic art. I also have some photography series that I would love to get showcased.
EV: Who are some of your favorite abstract artists?
Meagan: Joan Miro is, without a doubt, my biggest influence. I’m also a fan of Alexander Calder, Wassily Kandinsky and Stuart Davis. Hans van Bovenkamp is also a big influence–I actually had the pleasure of meeting him in person when I visited his beautiful studio in South Hampton earlier this year.
EV: Are there any upcoming art shows that you plan on participating in?
Meagan: Yes, several! I’ve had an unbelievable summer and have work on display in Brooklyn courtesy of the A.I.R. Gallery, in Manhattan at the Gateway Art Center (that represents me), in Long Island at the Demouzy Gallery (that also represents me) and on Governors Island with the Sculptors Alliance. I am currently at work on my biggest project to date–a 6 foot x 3 foot sculptural wall hanging–which will be unveiled as a permanent fixture at the Demouzy Gallery in October. I will also be debuting three new illuminated wall hangings at the South Street Gallery in Suffolk County this November, and in December I’ll be participating in a wreath-inspired show that will be exhibited at the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park. In January I will be showcasing my artwork internationally when I exhibit at the Bishopstown Exhibition Gallery in Cork, Ireland, and I’m discussing additional shows in Finland and elsewhere. Most crucially, I’m in the process of designing many unique new pieces since I have three solo shows forthcoming in 2017 and 2018. One will be held at the Piermont Library in upstate New York; right now that solo show–my debut!–is slated for March of 2017. The other two solo shows will be at Manhattan’s Gateway Art Center and Long Island’s Demouzy Gallery. I’ll have more details in the coming months.
EV: You are an advocate for home-schooling. Would you mind sharing your experience being home-schooled, and also some of the benefits in educating children outside of the public and private school system?
Meagan: Truthfully, I’m actually a bigger advocate of online learning/cyber-schooling simply because it offers more quality control. That being said, I was homeschooled with tutors and it was really marvelous–there was not one negative aspect to this model of education. It offered me so much extra time to work on my art and writing and it also taught me to be self-sufficient when it comes to making deadlines. Every success I have–especially with my fiction writing–I attribute to the fact that I was homeschooled. Actually, I would love to teach college-level classes online one day, preferably for Creative Writing and English Literature.
EV: Most public schools have downsized their creative programs. What are some alternative ways parents can keep their children interested in the arts?
Meagan: Libraries generally have a lot of programs in place that support the arts and there are also a lot of DIY projects that can be found online. YouTube is full of tutorials which can teach kids how to get artsy using affordable and commonplace items. Museums like the Nassau County Museum of Art also offer classes; I’ve taken a few and they are really great. I took a children’s book class there in 2006 and eventually got a book I wrote for it published in 2014. Art classes are good for adults, too. One of the galleries that represent me is the Demouzy Gallery and it’s in Rockville Center, Long Island. The owner, Reine, is actively seeking to start promoting the arts through classes and I am planning to lead a few; most likely starting with a collage class this October.
EV: You mentioned your fiction writing. As an author what type of fiction do you write?
Meagan: I write pretty much every kind of fiction–novels, short stories, poems, plays and children’s books. I started publishing when I was 18 and began submitting lifestyle articles to a monthly Long Island publication called Great South Bay Magazine. In 2008 I secured a permanent column with them titled “Roller Coasting” which consists of comedic short stories; I’ve also published several poems with them and plan to read my poems at poetry slams in Manhattan later this year. I’ve also written card verses for the Designer Greetings card company; when I was 20/21 four of my Christmas and Valentine’s Day verses were sold in cards throughout the USA and Canada–and I still see them in stores sometimes! That was such a thrill–especially for someone who was still in college. In 2007, when I was in my sophomore year of college, an older classmate of mine–who was an established author–told me about Avalon Books. They were a mid-sized publisher who published books in three genres: Western, Mystery and Romance. Although Mystery was my favorite genre, I decided to start with a Western since it seemed easier. Before I even graduated, my first novel, “Dry Heat”, was accepted for publication! It was released in 2010. I went on to write a mystery, “Death Amid Gems”, which was released in 2011 and a romance, “Dolbert Springs Holiday”. Avalon Books was taken over by Amazon in 2010 so the Romance/Romantic-Comedy ended up being published by American Star Books in 2013. I’m currently working on a Horror novella for Pristess & Hierophant Press and have found a few publishers that are willing to look at Fantasy and Science Fiction novels, too. I’ve published short stories with Akaschic Press and even won first prize for a story I submitted to Chilling Tales for Dark Nights; they are an awesome company that produces tremendous audio recordings on YouTube. I’ve published over 40 children’s books with Smart Kidz Club with over two dozen more scheduled to be released within the next year or two. They are a producer of eBooks for children and they publish in both Spanish and English, with other languages coming soon. Additionally, I have two more children’s books accepted with a small Canadian publisher called Gerbil Meets Mouse Press. One of the coolest things I ever wrote was a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story for a website called Shadows at the Door. It was quite silly but that was fine since it was meant to play out like a game. It was really enjoyable to create. To date, I’ve never had to self-publish or pay to have any of my work in print which is kind of amazing considering that I don’t yet have an agent–although I’m actively seeking one!
EV: You also had a play produced. What was that like?
Meagan: Amazing! I wrote a short one-act play called “The Muse” which is a dark comedy about a writer who is tormented by his muse…a small, green, goblin-like creature. I’ve had it performed at the Silent Barn in Brooklyn and the Manhattan Repertory Theater in Manhattan and I’m actively looking for other venues to produce it. I was so fortune to find a wonderful actress, Hallie Samuel, and actor/producer Patrick Terry–who is also a professional magician–who played the roles brilliantly and are willing to revive them in the future. I also found an awesome costume designer, Tracie Jayne, who made a brilliant green goblin costume. The performers really brought my words to life. I nearly cried with joy to hear how loudly the audience applauded after each performance. Seeing and hearing your words performed in live theater is an absolute thrill. I’m writing several other plays–both one-act and full length–and hope to explore this medium much more in the near future. I have even written an hour-long puppet play for children that I would love to see acted out! I have not written a screenplay yet but I have a few in the works, starting with a short film that is a family-friendly comedy.
EV: You have also worked with stop motion animation. What can you tell us about that experience?
Meagan: Stop motion is very time consuming but fun. To date, I have made one video called “The Fate of 30 Cakes” which garnered me a surprising amount of success. It was showcased at Silent Barn in Brooklyn and aired on the cable channel BRIC TV. BRIC Arts Media is a great Brooklyn arts organization; they run art classes in libraries. I went to a stop motion one in Coney Island, Brooklyn, and that’s how it all started. When I finished my video and posted it on YouTube I sent the link to Mark Pagan at BRIC. He was impressed by it and invited me to the studio for an interview about the process. It was a really cool experience and it’s surreal to think that my first stop motion ended up being shown–along with an interview–on cable. I’m actively making more stop motions now and plan to create a Vine page so I can post smaller videos. They take a long time but are so worthwhile in the end. I write about Toys and Games a lot (so I get toy samples to review, many of which are ideal to use in stop motion. Companies like Stikbot have been supportive of me as have many other organizations like Colorforms, SCS Direct and Lakeshore Learning Materials–just to name a few!
EV: Last question, you enjoy traveling all over the States and beyond. Where are some unique places that you’ve been to, that every artist should make a point in visiting?
Meagan: Well, I have family in Ireland so that will always be my favorite place to visit. Actually, I have always been strongly inspired by Celtic designs which really are quite abstract in style. The most influential places I ever traveled to were Barcelona, Spain, and throughout Italy–especially Venice. Those cities are just so full of beauty and art and culture. Paris, Geneva, the Grand Canyon and Quebec also had a big impact on me but there are many, many places I still want to go to. I’ve never been to Germany, Australia or anywhere in Asia. I hope to go all over the world one day…hopefully whilst promoting my artwork! Overall, I have to recommend Italy to all artists; it is a gorgeous country with a rich history and the people were really lovely…although I’ve been fortunate in that everywhere I’ve gone thus far I’ve met friendly people!
EV: Thank you for hanging out with Entertainment Vine, Meagan. We can’t wait to see what you come up with next.
*Meagan J. Meehan is a published author, poet, cartoonist and produced playwright. She pens columns for the Great South Bay Magazine, Blasting News and AXS. Before its closing in July of 2016, Meagan wrote for the Examiner and had 1,933 articles to her name. She is also a stop motion animator and an award-winning abstract artist. Meagan holds a Bachelors degree in English Literature and a Master’s degree in Communication. She is an animal advocate and a fledging toy and game designer.
Be sure to check out Meagan’s new toy review YouTube page here.
You can also keep up with Meagan on her official social media and art sites: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Art Interview on YouTube, Blasting News Column, AXS Column, BRIC Arts Media Profile, RAW Artists Profile, Nail Art Gallery, Great South Bay Column, Akashic Books Short Stories, Chilling Tales for Dark Nights Stories, Smart Kidz Club Books, Amazon Novels and “Choose Your Own Adventure” Story/Game.