We’re thrilled to share an interview with the artist who placed first in Miri Gallery’s “Welcome to My World: Mental Health Through Art” juried art competition. Meghan Arcaro is from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and she works primarily in metal, specifically the classical medium of bronze. Her work is intriguing and emotional, as well as beautiful and captivating. Here’s what she had to say about her background, her work, and what it means to be an artist:
•• Tell us a little bit about your background. What made you interested in art and who were your early influences?
My grandmother played a profound role in shaping my artistic interests. From a very young age we drew and painted together, fostering my desire to create. She was a huge motivator in my endeavors to make art. I have always enjoyed art but it wasn't until my first year of college that I discovered metalworking, which almost immediately became my passion, and led to me pursuing my degree in sculpture.
•• What is your current medium and why do you like to work with it?
I work primarily in bronze. I love the beauty and elegance of such a classical medium contrasting with the very modern narrative of my work; the warmth of the bronze contrasts nicely with the somber qualities of my sculptures. I love being able to sculpt something and create something permanent from it, something that will outlive me by hundreds if not thousands of years.
•• In your viewpoint, what does it mean to be an artist?
To be an artist is to create, to bring beauty into the world, and to express your innermost thoughts and feelings. To make what you love in spite of anything else, any opposition or obstacles, or at times even in spite of yourself. To create because you can't stand to do anything but create, because it makes you complete as a person.
•• Please tell us a bit about your pieces that are being exhibited at Miri Gallery. How do they fall into the theme of mental health awareness?
My work is mostly varying forms of self portraiture, capturing a brief glimpse into my psyche, and illustrating my feelings of depression and anxiety. “Shattered”, “Crumbling” and “Splitting at the Seams” are direct portraits of myself that epitomize the feeling of breaking apart, a feeling I am all too familiar with; feeling defeated, pulled in many directions, and not knowing how to reconcile. “The Lovers” illustrate a love affair with death, resistant but accepting. Creating emaciated and almost sickly figures reflects my issues with body dysmorphia. I have had issues with depression and anxiety for most of my life and being able to create works that illustrate how I feel has been an invaluable coping mechanism. These objects allow me a sense of peace and a way to reconcile my shattered sense of self, how I feel about the world around me, and how I experience it.
•• Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating was something you absolutely had to do?
I've always been aware of the powerful hold art had on my life, but it wasn't until college that I realized I could never be complete without creating art. The first bronze sculpture I made in my intro to casting class was the most amazing thing I had ever accomplished; so many hours and so much work became an object that would exist long after I was gone. There was so much solace in that idea for me, that a reflection of myself could exist long after any memory of me had faded. Those first objects made me aware that this is what I'm supposed to do, gave me the drive to carry on, and made me aware that I would never be able to live without creating art.
•• Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven't yet?
I love to create in any medium and am grateful to have had the opportunity to work in areas such as drawing, painting, woodworking, and metalworking, but would love to pursue other 3D mediums. I have always been incredibly interested in working with ceramics and have had painfully few opportunities to experiment with this medium. I feel as though clay could lend itself to some amazing new chances for sculptural works. I would also love the chance to work with casting from 3D printed objects; technology has allowed for bigger and better avenues for expression and I'm excited about this new medium.
You can view more of Meghan’s work at Miri Gallery during the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll on September 16, and on her website at afflictionart.com.