A meet up with an artist: Meghann Snow (U.S.A)
It was a pleasurable surprise to be invited to Young Art gallery last Tuesday, to meet up with the American artist, Meghann Snow. I was running a bit late, so when I came rushing into the gallery, a huge piece of canvas laying on the floor was the first thing that greeted me — after that a smiley face of the artist.
My first impression of Meghann is that’s she’s happy, positive — and really open. After the “short” hour of our meeting, I was sure I’d been right. Nevertheless, I also got to learn that she is really competitive, determined and goal oriented — in a horizontal way. She’s clearly a friend of her friends but I guess that if you’re on the wrong site, she is — as we say in Icelandic — “no lamb to play with”.
Meghann is born and raised in Ohio, but has been living in NYC for the last 7 years — and she loves it. We talk about the great performance scene in the city and how her art family is constantly growing. However, being in Europe (she’s just arrived from Paris) is a great breeze with fresh perspectives.
“It’s so nice to see something new. Sometimes you become so emerge out of NYC but I don’t want to be blinded by not wanting to try new experiences and see something from a new lense”.
She has an open mind for people and life and this is one of the reasons she’s been introduced to Young Art — a new “art family” in Stockholm.
Taking a leap
Megan Snow graduated with a MFA in 2008 from Parsons University. Her initial plan was never to go to college but to follow her childhood dream and become a professional dancer. From a young age she had been practising both ice-skating and ballet and in high-school she trained with the Ohio Ballet, assuming to be hired by a company — something which ended up not happening.
“It was a dream to be a dancer but I was at a point where I couldn’t get any higher. Sometimes you hit walls and then you just have to try something new. I started painting one day — these really large horrible abstract paintings — and was eager to get my work out. So I took a leap; made a portfolio, applied for art schools and hoped for the best.”
Hands vs. Feet
In 2001 she got into art school and fell in love with painting. When I ask about her early work she tells me they are witty and humorous.
“I make these really small drawings — in the size of a credit card — that are sort of like a Facebook status. They are thoughts in your head, humorous and conversational and as I’m really bad at spelling I’m sort of mocking myself at the same time”.
For her paintings she used to work with raw materials (e.g. housepaint, wood glue, stables) and manipulate them to make it look like traditional painting materials.
Since then, her work has expanded and I was curious to know if she had always been aware of her rich history of dancing becoming a part of her ultimate body of work.
“It wasn’t until I started to write my MFA thesis. I began thinking about what inspires me for my pieces and it came to make sense that my material are dance, drawing and painting. And I started to think about what I could do around these three things to embody my vocabulary.”
It started with socks and paintings and developed into a spin of her ice skating background and ballet dancing. Today her performance show, Dance Drawings, consists of sizable canvas paintings, using her feet to create circles, inspired by classical ballet movements. And I want to know about the shoes; the “elegant” ballet shoes.
“When I make the ballet shoes, people think their kind of funny because I use bubble wrap and tape to create them — which is not like a traditional material. But for me the shoes become my paintbrush. So I’m taking it away from the hand and putting it down on the feet.
So it’s like hands vs. feet?
“Yes for me it’s like a competition. What is better? The hands or the feet? And to me the feet kind of win cause you’re so limited with your hands. The arms help your balance but I think the feet are a lot more elegant”.
After seeing Megan’s performance on Wednesday I understood what she meant byt the elegance of the feet. Her show was powerful yet sophisticated, as you hear the shoes touching the canvas — making sounds similar to skates touching the ice — and at the same time watches how she slowly circles to her final piece.
But I´m interested to know why she’s decided to use the performance as a medium.
“I was a performer from a very young age, so my own history is rich to myself, which makes my work very personal and intimate. At the same time I like to think that it’s open for people to have a true feeling when they experience it”.
What do you mean by true feeling?
“I’m trying to figure out what that experience is. I like connecting with the people in general so I’m hoping they come to see an experience — contesting their will to see a performance and see the artist make its work. Some people might not like it, some people may like it. That’s perfectly fine. But my mark is for it to last. I want to do a dance, but I also want to make it to have an afterthought, like a physical afterthought by the viewer. You saw the performance and after the performance you go back with a true memory”.
And when I ask her about her expectations about Stockholm, she says:
“I don’t know what is here yet. I’m curious to see how people will response to my performance. It can be bad or good. But I’m willing to go to a different extend”.
Your can see Meghann’s Snow performance represented by Young Art tonight at Berns Club (Stockholm). The house opens at 22.30 and the performance starts at 23.30 — sharp!
Don’t forget to RSVP!