Image credit: Margaret Meehan in her Dallas studio. Photo: Rodney Rogers
On Tuesday October 10th at 7pm Margaret Meehan presents “Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde,” a talk on how her work addresses monstrosity as a kind of otherness that goes beyond dualities and instead exists in shades of gray, a slippage between the categories that society defines us by and an acknowledgement of the monster that lives within us. In this clear-eyed and nuanced consideration of the intersections of myths, monsters, and miracles, Meehan examines how we decide whom we protect and whom we should be protected from by looking at notions of gender, vintage horror, and our own blood-stained American history.
Full Interview here. RM: With the recent political upheaval, there is obviously a great deal of concern for those already facing societal disregard (people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, etc.). This seems incredibly relevant to your practice and falls under what you’ve referred to as real American horror. How do these more current and experiential events affect how you approach the topics in your work?
MM: To be honest, this current shit show has me reeling. I’m seeing all of my past research now as a present reality and a threat. You approached me right around the election, and since then I’ve been trying to answer your questions at the same time as I’m trying to figure out how to deal with this new reality as a human being, a teacher, and an artist. What I’ve come to is that I need to keep active and proactive. I cannot look to the future without remembering the hope of the past. To many, my work seems dark, but the truth is it has always been about hope and perseverance. Knowing that we have been fighting these fights for generations and now seeing people out protesting en masse is just one sign of our progress as a country despite the continued abuse of power and the resurgence of overt patriarchy.
My current studio research involves thinking about horror films and focusing on films of my childhood with othered protagonists, like Carrie (1976) and Firestarter (1984), and I’m also thinking about the relationship of comedy to tragedy.
“Like a siren singing sailors to shipwreck, these haunting words
drift through the Old Jail Arts Center, pulling you into Meehan’s
exhibition (though admittedly to a more positive end). Here,
implementing ceramics, altered photographs, text, and sculpture,
the artist explores t he life of Olive Oatman. Oatman led an
extraordinary life. Born in 1837 in Illinois, at the age of 14 her family
was murdered by a Native American tribe. The only individuals to
escape this fate were herself and her sister, who were enslaved, and
one brother who was left for dead, but survived. Oatman was later
sold to the Mojave tribe, and conflicting stories a rise here, some
stating she continued to be a slave, while others posit that she was
a respected member of the tribe’s society. A few years later she was
ransomed back to white society, full of unusual stories and marked
by a bright blue tattoo on her chin.”
– Click the link to read “Thin Blue Lines”- meehan Patron Magazine- Justine Ludwig