Art Chat with Meegan Barnes
The ceramic sculptures of Meegan Barnes are empowering. These glistening apple bottoms are both feminine and feminist thereby reminding us to 'flaunt what our Mama's gave us' - it's all beautiful. In anticipation of the unveiling of her piece 'Tiger Booty' in Platinum Blend 2, we took the opportunity to have a chat with Barnes and gain more insight into her work. Here she talks about her process and a trip to Brazil that launched her booty worship.
You grew up in the Bay Area and then lived in New York after graduation before finally calling Los Angeles home. How has living in these art meccas shaped your creativity?
Each city has had a definite influence on my creativity. In SF in the 90’s I was super inspired by the skate and graffiti scene and even dabbled in graffiti a bit myself. I was also super influenced by all the artists involved in the Beautiful Losers collective that was happening at the time. Seeing girls out there like Margaret Kilgallen hanging with the bad boys made me wanna do it too.
In New York I worked in the hiphop and fashion industries as a designer and art director. I had a small clothing and cosmetics brand that was owned by Ecko Unlt. I was trying to bring my modern ideas of feminism into the beauty and fashion scene. It wasn’t easy. I developed my non-stop work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit there for sure.
In LA I finally feel grounded and back to pursuing fine art. I’ve only lived here a few years but have met so many inspiring and supportive artists and gallerists. There’s a definite sense of community here and I’m excited to keep exploring it.
I've read that a trip to Brazil inspired you to sculpt your first butt ceramic. Was there a particular woman's behind that captivated you?
Ha! I don’t think there was a specific behind per se. In Bahia where I was, the women were just so comfortable in their bodies, no one was trying to hide their butts like I always did, instead they were flaunting them. It was so liberating and empowering to see that. When I got back from that trip I was in between jobs so I took a ceramics class and without giving it much thought, I made a butt.
Tell us about your process. How does a work evolve from conception to completion?
If I’m making a piece for a show or commission, I definitely research imagery and sketch first. If it’s a personal piece I kinda just start and see how it evolves. Sometimes it’s all about the form itself. Other times the form is like my canvas for drawing, carving, glazing etc.
My technical process involves my own version of coiling. For the ceramic nerds out there, I roll out slabs and cut strips to start slowly building up the walls.
After its sculpted, I’ll let it dry a few days before going back to carve or glaze the imagery. With ceramics you always have to fire the piece twice, once before glazing and again after. When I use the gold luster it requires a third firing so it’s definitely a lengthy process. At every firing there’s a chance something could go wrong in the kiln so each successful firing is like a small victory and there’s a lot of stress and worry while they’re firing. I often ask myself why I chose ceramics as my main medium but then when I open the kiln I’m usually like, oh yeah, thats why. :-)
Your work for Platinum Blend 2, 'Tiger Booty' is fierce and empowering. Tell us about the inspiration behind this piece.
This piece was actually inspired by a commission for a guy in the band Chromeo. He told me his grandmother used to have these black and gold tiles in her bathroom with a tiger scratching the tile to reveal gold under neath. He wanted a piece to reflect that imagery. I was so excited about this concept so I did a bunch of sketches with different tigers and placements and decided I needed to make a series. This is one from that series. I love it so much I kept one for myself. I also love that his grandma was so fierce. My grandma had yellow tiles with daisies on them.
If you could hang only one artwork from art history in your home or studio, what would it be and why?
Oh wow, thats a tough one but lets see… I never got over over my art school crush on Egon Schiele. If I have to pick one, I’ll go with Female Nude Lying On Her Stomach cause she’s all like ‘booty in the air, don’t care’ ;-)
Tell us something about yourself we wouldn't necessarily know.
I love dogs. I have two, a stubborn jack russell mix named Alvin and scrappy terrier mutt named Willis. They are my babies and I’m totally obsessed with them.
If I were to spend the day with Meegan, what could I expect?
We would wake up early and walk the pooches. From there, anything could happen. JK. Honestly, it probably wouldn’t be that exciting. I’d go to my studio, put on some tunes and start rolling out clay.
Platinum Blend 2 opens January 9th at Modern Eden Gallery, 801 Greenwich St., San Francisco, CA 94133, www.moderneden.com