Artist: Megan Macuen
Media: Fiber, Ceramics, Paint, Hardware
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Max L. Gatov Gallery East
On February 8, Megan Macuen, a Fiber MFA, hosted an exhibition at Cal State Long Beach’s Gatov Gallery alongside fellow classmate Mimi Haddon for her untitled exposition. Upon speaking with her, she mentioned that although she is now a student participating in the School of Art’s Fiber program, she had not intended on pursuing an MFA in Fiber. Originally, her undergrad had been in fashion and design, however, she explained that her love of weaving inspired her to switch over and experiment with other types of art and materials. Her journey began by observing and playing around with different types of media, settling on fiber as the medium in which she decides to express her art – occasionally incorporating children’s art into her own. This is derived from her love of collecting children’s art from thrift stores which she considers one of her favorite hobbies.
Her love for what she calls “the innocence found in the art of children” can, for example, be seen in her first piece Untitled 1, which features materials such as wood, house paint, collected ceramics as well as collected fake fruit. Her art features an elevated piece of hardware, resembling a table, with inverted ceramics – each resembling ice cream cones and dogs – on the underside of it. Below the ceramics lies a net which has been tied to the legs of the table and a piece of wood is also suspended above the entire work. The rest of the exhibition features the same ropes and elements of hardware found in the first piece with slight alterations; her piece titled Untitled 3, for instance, featured a tetherball pole to hold up the muslin cloth and used soft balls underneath plywood panels to support the piece; she commented on how she felt that this gave the piece a “sporty” vibe.
Megan did not specify what her work was about, often answering “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” whenever presented with a question in regards to the nature of her art. Instead, she spoke about her technique when it comes to creating her art: no planning, just simply starting something and letting one thing lead to the other; this technique was displayed right before our eyes when she named her first piece, now called Skeleton Pirate Jungle Gym, as she was answering a classmate’s question about what the piece means to her, commenting that the net at the bottom reminds her of a nightmare she had once as a child about skeleton pirates and a pirate ship. She also described that particular piece as resembling the levels of perfection, the dog shaped ceramics reminding her of the innocent but imperfect world of children separated from the world above, a world of perfection that holds no flaws.
If I had to describe Megan’s exhibition with one word, it would be inspiring. At first, I was confused by her art because it was very unconventional; having taken Art History last semester, I was expecting to walk into a room full of paintings but was instead greeted by a room full of everything but frames and canvas. I did not understand the art at first but after hearing Megan give her thoughts on it, my eyes were opened and I realized that art really is subjective and it all has beauty in it. As a creator myself, I face the very common problem that arises during the creative process in which you question whether what you are producing is too strange. This experience inspired me to never deny or be ashamed of whatever I create, no matter how unconventional it may seem.