Monday, July 19, 2010

Meghan O'Connor

My good friend Meghan O'Connor has just installed this amazing show in Lexington, Kentucky at the Lexington Arts League. If you are in the area the closing reception is August 27 from 6-9. This show really blows me away. I told Meghan I wanted to do a write-up on my blog so I asked her to send me an artist statement for the show. She sent this:
“Scum-Licker” is an installation that incorporates animals and appliances, tied together by the themes of domesticity, labor, comfort, and struggle. The appliances, furniture, and other household items are organized like the interior of a home, with the animal figures “inhabiting” the space.
As you enter the space, you step into the living room area and head in a counter-clockwise direction into the sewing/ work area. This space is a documentation of the work put into the show, as well as one of the laborious items used. After the sewing area, you enter the kitchen, full of struggling pigs, cats, and nests of birds. These are all animals that are consumed as food, but also loved as pets, which makes it easy for us to view them and give them human attributes. They are placed amidst ovens and other appliances associated with food and cooking, a common environment for seeing these animals, but the animals are taken out of context in their form to evoke emotional responses.
Once through the kitchen, you enter the bathroom, a combination of dirt and beauty. In “Rose Sink,” one can see inside the cabinet and it its full of dirt and clutter, but on top it is very organized, and made with “candy-coated” colors. One donkey stands looking in the mirror, possibly reflecting on its landscape. All of the bathroom donkeys are ether throwing their heads back, implying struggle; or lowering their heads, showing defeat. Donkeys and horses are assocciated with manual labor throughout history, getting dirty and muddy, getting pushed to the extreme. It seems appropriate to concentrate them in the “dirtiest” room of the house.
When you are “done” in the bathroom, then you enter the laundry room area full of donkeys, both large and small, and the ironing area with laundry lines. Again, this arrangement evokes the idea of labor. There are two main donkeys, one pink, and one brown. The pink donkey is connected to the washing machine, which is overflowing with similar scraps of fabric, surrounded by smaller donkeys. On the floor the pillows of a similar nature are very organized in a portable container. The brown donkey in the dryer is in a similar state. On the opposite side the laundry line is organized, and the ironing board empty, ready for more work.
Lastly, there is the reliquary area: “All that Glitters Ain’t Necessarily Gold.” This shrine area shows the passage of time. Remnants of the figures are recognizable from the space. It is their ancient ruins, broken yet golden. Imperfect but beautiful.
The entire show “Scum-Licker” is full of imperfections. It is dirty, old, there are spiders and webs everywhere, the space is organized clutter, a representation of our everyday strife. The animals themselves are somewhat ambiguous; it is hard to tell if their expressions are ones of struggle or ectasy. They are represented in a very playful manner, which hearkens to cartoons, stuffed animals, craft pillows, or even taxidermy The facial and bodily expression of the animals combined with an environemnt that is both hostile and comforting, are meant to make us question their roles, and our roles, domestically and socially. Often we ourselves are struggling with our own envrionments. We may have a love-hate relationship with doing the laundry, cooking food, or on a broader specturm, going to work, and contributing positively to society. But we do it anyway, and sometimes we cannot decide whether to laugh or to cry. We continue to “lick the scum,” why? because we have to? Or because a little part of us secretly enjoys it.
Meghan O’Connor
I love the statement and the show! I hope you can go see it if you are nearby. I wish I could see it in person. For now I'll just have to look at these photos over and over again. See more of Meghan's work here.


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Amelia said...

wow - this show looks powerful indeed! Wish I lived closer too :)


Aine Scannell said...

It does look like an interesting body of work - I just wish the photos of the work were better. Alythough I do appreciate that they are of the work in situ in the installation context.
Please will you tell her to get some good high res photos of it for her records as its very difficult to do once the show is down (as I know through my own experience). Never know when they will come in useful for books and so on.
I would like to see the pieces in more detail and to see specification eg re processes/techniques too.


A Beautiful Party said...

Im sure Meghan will get better photos made. I think she was just trying to get some quick pics to let people see what she's done. If she gets new ones made soon I will try to get them posted on here!

curlymeg88 said...

Hey yes, I was frantically cleaning, loading the car, and my student worker was taking pics when we had to leave in ten minutes. Haha. That's what I get for pulling all nighters I guess. Someone asked about the techniques. It was a combination of mostly relief and some silkscreen printed on old sheets I bought at the thrift store. Then I had an epic battle with an old sewing machine (shown in the photos), then an ephiphany, buy a new one! It changed my life! The prints are stuffed. the figures are cast in wax. And much of it was an assemblage method, with the appliances, etc. It is my first installtion and many things did NOT go according to plan, but I was surprised at how many things just seemed to line right up for me. Great experience overall. Thanks for all the kind words, and I promise I'll have better pics soon.

A Smack of Jerryfish said...

Meghan! OH wow! I'll let some friends in the Lexington area know the show is up!

curlymeg88 said...

for sure you totally should Jerry. We POSSIBLY may have a kitchen utensil performance at the closing. It's gonna be great. It's in a dungeon of a castle!