18: Accepting the complex nature of your identity with Artist, Mother and Philosopher Megan Craig
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Megan Craig is an artist and mother of two girls living in the Northeast. She has a rich and diverse art practice which began with painting and over time has evolved to incorporate performance and textile based work. In this episode Megan shares about this transformation, beginning with her time as a cityscape painter living in New York and moving us through recent fabric collaborations that involved hand-sewing large-scale works in the studio.
Megan and I chat about her career path…how she has struggled to keep certain parts of her life and herself separate, particularly her career as a philosophy professor and her career as an artist. She talks about the freedom she experiences when she stops holding up the walls and allows the identities of artist/philosopher/mother intermingle.
Megan’s paintings have been exhibited across the world and she has been awarded residencies and grants from many prestigious places including the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Vermont Studio Center and the New York Arts Foundation. Megan is an associate professor of philosophy at Stony Brook University. You can view more of Megan’s work on her website ( http://www.megancraig.com) or connect with her via Instagram @waterstreetprojects — enjoy this inspiring episode!
Studio scene of works in progress
Megan and her daughter Cora
“If this field could sing”, oil on canvas, 2011, 80 X 56 inches “After my daughter was born, I made a series of paintings with titles that begin with “If…” I was thinking about painting as a way of making reality, and so I painted many things that I wished or hoped. One of the paintings in that series showed a baby curled up in a crib, titled “If she slept.” Sadly, the painting had no effect until years later.”
“How to Press”, oil on panel, 2012, 36 X 40 inches “Another series I worked on after my daughter was born dealt with seemingly simple or automatic actions. These were “How to…” paintings (How to run, How to swing, How to breathe, how to swim), like visual manuals for action. I was thinking about my daughter’s early efforts to sit, to move, to speak. Each of these paintings considered an elemental act. I think I was trying to show that none of these are easy.”
An image from the performance piece, Colorada, done in collaboration with Rachel Bernsen. The piece included a 42-minute sound score created in collaboration with Megan’s husband, Nick Lloyd, and featuring the voice of her daughter reading excerpts of a Gertrude Stein story
An image from the performance piece, Colorada, done in collaboration with Rachel Bernsen.
“Butter Fingers”, 2015, oil on panel, 24 X 24 inches
“The way things felt”, 2016 “The way things felt was a collaborative, interactive, public work. Visitors were invited to wear a red smock, a black smock, or a pink smock. If they chose red, they were given a paint roller and were allowed to apply felt to the floors and walls of the space. If they chose black, they became a “surface” and could be in the space while others applied felt to their smock. Those wearing pink smocks were “erasers” who could remove felt from anywhere in the space. This work also included a multi-channel sound score I created together with my husband, Nick Lloyd. The idea was to create an intensely multi-sensory environment where people could experiment with touch, being touched, loss and letting go.”
“Emblem”, 2018, felt, satin, crocheted cotton, silk thread, bias tape, ribbon, 58 X 131.5 inches
Shields installation shot, 2018
“Quiet Practice”, 2019, Hand sewn felt, flannel, thread ” Last year I was visiting my daughter’s preschool while they performed their first-ever active shooter drill, an exercise they decided to call “Quiet Practice.” It was so moving and upsetting to take part in that with the kids. I think everyone in America should have to participate in an active shooter drill with 3-year-olds. Later, I made these toddler-sized blankets and pillows that were exhibited with 2-minute timers. People were invited to lie down under the blankets and be quiet for 2 minutes.”
Studio shot with Megan’s daughter, Cora
Work in progress
“Hola”, 2019, hand sewn felt, satin, thread, lace, bias tape, ribbon, 66 x 113 inches
I love this episode!
Is also the first I am listening in, and it seems to have come in on the right time… I have been struggling a lot lately, because I would like to spend my time painting and drawing and maybe following a more artistic life and this is weighing on my 9-5 job and leaving me with mixed feelings on what I should focus or if I can balance both, on top of being a mom… that feeling of maybe not knowing how to define myself…
Listening others who have managed / are managing is an inspiration.