We had the good fortune of connecting with Megan Weatherford and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Megan, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
As a creative, I often wonder whether what I do makes any difference and whether or not I should just give it up. Doubt and imposter syndrome lurk, and they make you question yourself enough to paralyze you. I think it is important to connect with your Why. Creating for me is part of who I am, the art I create uplifts me and I want to share that with others. Creativity is not something I can give up, so when doubts creep in, I fight back. Doubt is silenced in the Doing. In the midst of doubt, focus on one small thing you can do. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to amount to anything. It just needs to get the wheels rolling again. Do the work and the answers will come.
One of my favorite pieces that I’ve created to date is currently available at Athens Art & Frame and is titled “Resilience: The Beauty in Stubbornness.” This piece was created out of leftover roof decking after a tree fell on my home in a storm. The aftermath of that experience was overwhelming for me, and creating this piece helped me process those feelings and express gratitude and hope for life after the storm. When I first started carving lines into the paint, they flowed along nicely together. As I continued, I got this sense of not wanting to go with the flow, to explore what it looked like to interrupt the flow by going a different direction, it felt like stubbornness exuding into the carving. I know that stubbornness isn’t always the nicest word, but when you’re getting up from a fall or hardship, dogged determination to move forward step by step is truly a beautiful thing. So if you know your Why and you can’t give it up, find a way to keep going, even if it is just one tiny step at a time.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
A self-taught artist, creating is a therapeutic process allowing me to explore themes of hope, love, and boundaries while challenging perfectionism. I enjoy creating abstract textural pieces looking for balance between light and dark. Through my work, I hope to express resilience and flow to encourage myself and others to keep going. Art to me is creating to brighten the world, especially to combat the dark. Through my work, I look to express resilience, fun, and flow.
Creating was part of my upbringing with a mom who was an art teacher. Thanks to her, I was exposed to all sorts of artistic mediums my entire childhood and even tagged along with her to classes at SCAD during the summer. I rediscovered myself through creativity after I became a mother and struggled with post-partum depression and anxiety. Creating became my link to myself and offered me catharsis and a way to process the darkness I found myself in. It brought me back to life. At first I created whatever came to mind with whatever supplies I had at hand. It did and still does make me a better, happier person and mother.
Starting out, I never intended to share my art with others, but it had made such a big difference in my life, that I started to wonder if I should at least try to put something out there and see what happens. My first experience putting my work out there was when I submitted a design for the Georgia PINES state Library Card Design Contest. When I saw the call to submit for this contest, I knew I wanted to contribute as a way to show gratitude to those at my own local library who had made such a difference to me as a new mother, though they might never have realized. I created a mixed media design using my son’s fingerpainted handprint and submitted it for the contest. I remember thinking, man, if this even gets an honorable mention or places top 10…maybe, just maybe it would mean I should lean into sharing what I create more. My design won.
It’s been a long road since then and I’ve done my best to be open to creative ideas and try them out. I’ve learned something from each and every creative experiment, especially the failures. Sometimes when I find myself in a creative lull or weighed down by doubt, I find I get myself out of it by rolling up my sleeves and playing, experimenting, and failing gloriously. This path has led me to paint carving as my primary medium to create abstract textural art. For my paint carvings, I paint layers of exterior flat house paint onto a surface multiple times a day for a period of several weeks until it is deep enough to carve with linoleum knives. This results in a piece where the light changes from every viewpoint and I leave layered drippy edges on the sides that create a sort of art unto themselves.
The mediums I choose to work with are not very forgiving if you make mistakes. This forces me to accept mistakes and take the next right step to move forward in spite of them and often, it’s the mistakes that make a piece even more special than I had originally planned. With paint carving, my perfectionist nature had me drawing out every single line I intended to carve. Working in that way quickly became very frustrating to me. Paint carving takes weeks to prepare a piece for carving, so it’s high stakes if you make a mistake, but I wasn’t ready to give up on it, so I dove into a piece without a plan and let the marks lead me. Now I continue to create in this way. I go in with little to no plan and carve what and where and how I feel in the moment.
For many of my works, I’ve looked to use substrates that might be considered trash, for example, reclaimed wood, even a broken fascia board from my own home. There is something special to me about breathing new life into old or discarded things. Moving forward, I would like to look for more ways to do that and think it would be awesome to work with interior designers to create unique and meaningful artwork out of materials from their clients’ remodels.
Continuing with my personal work, I’ve envisioned creating larger interactive works that invite viewers to take pictures to create a special memory at the venue displaying those pieces. Research and Development/Trial and Error are ever ongoing pieces to my practice. That is one of the greatest, yet most challenging sides to creativity: The possibilities are endless. But, if I can brighten the world one piece at a time, it’ll all be worth it.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
It’s been a while since I’ve been to Atlanta, but a few of my favorite places to eat are: The 57th Fighter Group Restaurant in Chamblee and Taqueria Los Hermanos in Tucker. Running the Peachtree Road Race was also one of the most exciting experiences I had in Atlanta. It’s an incredible atmosphere all around. And of course, we’d have to swing by The High Museum of Art!
Taking a side trip to Athens, we would have to stop by the Lyndon House Arts Center and the Georgia Museum of Art. If my friend was a mother, we would have to check out ReBlossom Mama Baby Shop- they do amazing work for mothers including resources to help provide mental health support. A few of my favorite places for food and coffee are Molly’s Coffee, Akademia, Walker’s Pub, Amici’s Pizza, Cali N Tito’s, and Mama’s Boy. We’d also have to go berry picking at Washington Farms and DGD Farms at Hadden Estate.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Thank you to my amazing partner in life, my husband Joe! Words can’t quite express how much this man has done to help me live my dream, but I couldn’t do this without his encouragement and love. Thank you to my son for keeping me on my toes and reminding me how to have fun. Thank you to my family for loving me for me and a special thank you to my mom for letting me have creative freedom throughout my childhood and being willing to “talk shop” with me in my adulthood. Another thank you to a few of my more recent mentors in life, Dr. Janice Lee, who to this day still inspires me and thank you to Lea Ann Slotkin, who is a lady full of encouragement doing wonderful work to lift other creatives. Thank you to Beth Sale at the Lyndon House Arts Center in Athens who helped me get through my first ever artist talk. And a HUGE thank you to Athens Art & Frame who are all around fantastic people doing great things to support artists in the Athens area.