Erin Meahger

Visual Description for  "Painting: Strips"

A series of 4 strips of canvas. To begin I started by laying a canvas as tall and wide as me flat on the ground outside and I was flinging different colors of paint at the blank, unpainted canvas, and then letting the wet paint that I mixed with water, drip, so that I held the canvas vertically, and let the drips fall in different directions across the canvas, by shaking and holding the canvas so that gravity acted on the wet drips. I left the canvas outside in the hot sun and dust for days. Then I cut up the canvas into long strips. Some strips are as tall as a small person. Some strips are as tall as a baby. Each has a blank, unpainted background. On one piece, words are written in black at the top and the words say: "Allow yourself plenty of space to grieve even as you recognize and express gratitude for what remains. Face your grief but remember it is only part of the story." On another different strip, words are written in black at the bottom left corner and the words say: "I was going to paint outside but then the dust and then the fire came so I am inside with a mask on instead." Each of the four strips has bright colors of paint that is smudged, splattered, dripped, thrown, or scribbled onto the canvas. There are also smooth and carefully painted curves and lines and dots made with tiny brushes, drips of paint, and fingertips.

Visual Description for "Sculpture"

Audio Description for   "Painting: Strips"

Audio Description for "Sculpture"

Hand-sized, fingertip-sized, and finger-sized pieces of a cut-up painting are stacked on thin strips of metal wire around a circle. I took a canvas about the size of my arms stretched out, so about five feet tall and five feet wide and I covered it with yellow paint and then I covered the canvas in one corner with black pain and then I stepped into the paint on the canvas and walked across the yellow and stamped my feet. Then I dripped dots of different shades of blue and purple in various parts of the canvas. And then I expressed frustration and anger with hard strokes of green and pouring the paint directly from a bottle in swirls of black and red and neon orange. On a second canvas, I left the background unpainted and covered the canvas in layers of dots, smudges, swirls, scratches, drips, and scribbles. I then cut up the canvas into pieces the size of my fingertips, fingers, hands, and forearms and broke the painting apart so that it does not anymore tell one story but is many pieces. Then I took thin pieces of wire that are strong enough to stand up straight and I poked them into a circle of foam that is round around, about the size of two hands spread out next to each other, and empty inside the radius, like a crown. And around the radius of the circle of foam I poked the wire pieces in. Then I poked the different sized pieces of canvas onto the wire. The small pieces are poked onto straight thin wires. The wire pieces can still stand although they bend each one differently with the weight of the pieces of canvas they hold. And the different pieces overlap on the wire on top of each other, all facing outwards as much as possible, so you can see the different pieces layered, and so the colors and images can be seen from different views moving in a circle around the sculpture. And so it no longer tells any story, and yet it sort of looks like a ship of masts with no visible ship at all. It has curve, and bend, and movement, because the pieces of the paintings cause the wire to bend. Overlapping pieces of bright and dark colors from a chaotic pattern some sense of calm movement emerges.

Erin Meager is ever-learning to live/love her identity as a disabled/human. In her storied life, art-making has been one of the few constants. When no one listens, art has heard. For Erin, art has given voice to all that feels unspeakable and unspoken. Consistently forced to reinvent how to sustain herself, Erin has often lived on the gratitude she feels creatively embodying the spirit we all carry tucked inside. Erin’s art mediums have shifted to encompass whatever resources and (in)stability allow her to access, and so in a sense, disability expands Erin’s artistic range even as it limits her other material choices.

Artist Statement: "We so often call history the story of what happened, but isn’t to be alive the feeling? And what is the value of what is occurring if we do not lift to the surface the feeling of what is happening for the people living within the story? My work removes the story from the canvas and surfaces only the feeling of the living through. In this way my work could be considered a picture of aliveness, self portraits of the me living through the history others will summarize, scrutinize, analyze and sterilize to tell.

What is it to feel, to watch, to witness your body that you occupy and the place you reside squeezing the life out of you, but slowly, but perceptively, but to experience the beauty of the place and that body, still, nevertheless? I continue to question life leading me to move to a place with unsustainable access to water and increasingly hazardous air. A place filled with cars speeding on the widest, fastest highways I have ever seen. But a place filled with trees, mountains, roses. In the ecology of this place, my disabled body has become more troublesome, more painful, and I try to listen if that means I should leave, but as a disabled person my access to alternate lives and choices is diminished. From this place, from these questions, when my body allows, I create art. 

In this piece I experiment with cutting down a canvas painted purely from an emotional space to fit into the form of a story book. My process itself was affected by my disability (when I could paint and how long) as well as the directives of weather and air quality (when was the heat manageable and the air breathable) given that my accessible art "studio" is a bit of private concrete outside my back door. 

Disability has radically, permanently changed me. A real metamorphosis even if a fractured, unwanted one. Climate change may radically permanently change us too in ways we may never be ready for, never want, that we may wish ahead of time to forget. My hope is to continue being able to embody the beauty and the art of aliveness within the ecology of these disabling times."