Posted May 25, 2016 by Cooper Point Journal in Artist Statement

Cover Artist Statement: Megan Bailey

by Megan Bailey

Still lifes are often under-recognized and have sank to one of the lesser respected forms in the hierarchy of art genres, sometimes considered to be used as a preliminary study of form, composition, and value. In all honesty, I did not appreciate drawing still lifes and found them quite unexciting, until I was introduced to the work of Manny Farber’s still lifes in 2012, whose work has deeply and continually influenced mine my work.  Farber used a birds-eye perspective, creating contemporary and dynamic still-life composition. Most importantly, Farber used objects from his life to create a narrative painting.

Influenced by Farber, I use an aerial perspective by placing the objects directly onto the canvas or paper. The composition is not fully visible until the objects are removed from the material, and the drawing or painting is hung on the wall. I further delineate the foreground by keeping the background solid, forcing the viewer to address the selected objects.

The objects I choose to draw are deeply personal about the world I inhabit right now, telling a narrative about my life and experiences. My work addresses issues of economics, classism, accessibility, and resources, among other themes. These compositions are life size, creating a visceral and immediate response on the viewer that associates a package of 33-cent ramen and cup of coffee as calories and fuel to barely sustain themselves. 

I use style-lifes as a vehicle for storytelling, engaging with themes such as balancing three jobs and being a student; my commitment to art and advancing my career; and my rejection of societal ideals, like getting married and having children. My work also involves introspection my my identity and gender, perpetuation of rape culture, and femme experiences. In this, I address societal constructs of privilege and oppression, loss of upward mobility, and various forms of deviation from society.

These are extremely personal still lifes that viewers may or may not relate to. My hope is that these objects and themes are quotidian to some, and to those who do not understand the narratives and themes I am expressing, I hope that they ask questions about their position in society.

The use of space evokes feelings or emotions. For certain compositions, I’ve used negative space to convey emptiness. Other compositions are more densely populated, suggesting abundance. Each painting or drawing is a chapter; as a body of work they tell a story.

My goal is not to create a rendered image, but rather propose an idea. I have opted to preserve the artistic marks, imprints, and actions of my body and decision-making left behind. By doing so, I declare artistic presence and existence.

I use materials, such as house paint, butcher paper, bargain sale materials, and donated supplies to express another dimension of narrative within the medium. Many artists and art institutions look down upon the materials I use, as they are non-archival. My choice of economical materials contributes to my aesthetic, and that my art is ephemeral, similar to the societal constructs that contribute to my feeling of inequity and despair.backcover cover coverart