Los Angeles artist Megan Whitmarsh creates “Rueful Pop Art” with her embroidered textiles, soft sculptures, and fabric collages. Her latest solo exhibition entitled “Here Comes Purple” is on display until October 20th at the New Image Art Gallery in West Hollywood. Photos by Amee Foss.
Interview with Artist
Whitmarsh’s intention within this exhibit is to showcase the process of creating the art as much as the art itself. She accomplishes it with equal parts bravado, humility, humor and sensitivity.
Upon entering the gallery, the first pieces are hung as a massively scaled collection of over-sized and hand-sewn stuffed objects such as vinyl records, a banana, spray paint cans, sharpies, and a random rainbow flip flop. Two of the records’ titles are Killing Joke’s single “Eighties” and P.I.L.’s “World Destruction”. Together they work in tandem with the other pieces to convey visually a subtle tension nostalgic of the 80’s by combining an end of the Cold War Era social commentary through music and the tools used to construct that commentary.
Moving through the gallery, there are variations of more introspective, detailed and layered works. Whitmarsh takes the viewer from the bold, bright, over-scaled display of what seems at a first glance mundane objects and then continues to reincarnate them as solid colored clusters embroidered into a tapestry, transforming them from formerly everyday objects into an army of significant magnificence. A smattering of intimate glimpses into the artist’s subconscious are shared by pieces such as hand stitched words on a fabric reproduction of lined notebook paper that recalls an apocalyptic yet playful dream.
GT: What was the inspiration behind creating these works?
MW: I want to make “new” things which admit their history. New to myself and new to the world if possible. This is a struggle. I don’t want to be bored in the process of making and seek surprise even for myself.
GT: What is the overall theme for your new exhibit?
MW: An organizing of cultural and personal ephemera which is my reckoning of the overwhelming yet compelling aspects of the universe. I have an idea that my art is like a spiral — constantly changing yet circling the same ideas.
GT: You have a lot of references to music and the 80’s in this exhibit, and one could say that the sequencing of the order of your pieces in this show is similar to that of an album of music. In listening to an album, each song is its own singular experience, but as a whole, the songs are placed in a particular order to take the listener on a journey, with peaks and valleys of emotional and sensory stimulation.
Collectively, you’ve managed to take that same concept and physically re-create it in the gallery for the viewer, bringing one beyond a visual experience and evoking multi-layers of emotion, ranging from moments of shoe gazer introspection, reflected in content and technique in pieces such as “Apocalypse Dream 3 (The Day After)”, to the power pop, raucous glory of “Orange Belt”.
If this exhibition is a showcase of the process of the work itself, what was your intention with the sequencing of the pieces? How much of it was entropy, if any, and how much intentional?
MW: I love this idea of the show as an arrangement of songs on a record. The show was installed thinking in visual terms but thinking of it with this other layer applied feels productive. I think one of the reasons for showing is to elicit responses like this which allows the artist to enter the work from a different perspective and self examine. This can result in evolution — always a good thing!.
GT: How does music influence your process?
MW: Well, I listen to and am very engaged by music. I have a pretty diverse taste and strong attachments. I really appreciate music with depth and heart. I like artists that are giving and this goes for art and music. I think they are different languages sharing the same motive.
GT: What music are you listening to these days?
MW: Right this second I am listening to Easy All Stars version of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon which is awesome. Lately lots of: Buffy Sainte-Marie, Spiritualized, Lavender Diamond, The Knife, Hawkwind, Angels in Heavy Syrup, Harmonia & Shirley Ellis when I’m dancing with my kids.
More about Megan at meganwhitmarsh.com.
GUEST WRITER GILDEN TUNADOR
Gilden ditched her beloved Pittsburgh to study Journalism and Film at Penn State and afterwards made her way west to sunny L.A. where she picked up a pen along with a guitar and has held them both dearly ever since. Gilden can be heard singing, playing or co-writing on recordings from Lusk, Blinker the Star, Zenith Myth, Carissa’s Wierd, Feersum Ennjin and the upcoming Figg release. Her band, Queen Maud Land, is performing in L.A. venues starting this fall.