Meggan Waltman

Artist Interview
June 17, 2021
Meggan Waltman

Who are some artists that you are influenced by? or What are some of the non-visual mediums that interest and influence you?

There are so many artists that I admire but I am particularly influenced by the work of Helen Frankenthaler, Sophie Tauber-Arp, Isamu Noguchi and Clyde Burt.   I love that Tauber-Arp and Noguchi ventured into a wide spectrum of media and am greatly influenced by ceramicists, Clyde Burt being one in particular. When attempting to create a multi-sensory experience in my work I am inspired by non-visual mediums such as food, flora, and ephemeral nature sounds. These mediums are full of delicate distinctions and inform my work as I seek to magnify subtleties. 


Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?

I am inspired by erosion and layered  patterns of sediment in nature as well as the decaying effects of time on human-made structures.  The emotion evoked by a hand-painted sign slowly disappearing on the side of a commercial building or faded paint on industrial machinery show how time can affect the visual experience of an object.   I am also inspired by daily house work,  particularly  tasks that involve water like laundry and dish cleaning.    Watching water interact with fabric, causing the weave to open and bloom or pucker and stiffen when dried and seeing hot water encourage otherwise non-miscible liquids to swirl and blend are observations I have made while doing common chores that now inform my work.


 Is there a specific subject that you plan to focus on during this residency?

 I plan to focus on the shared effects of last years isolation, how we have been visually connected through digital images but bodily disconnected and how that has affected emotional storage and release.


Why did you apply for this residency?

I enjoy visiting and have a great respect for Modern West Gallery.  This residency will help push me into a more structured work practice.   I have never had a set schedule in my home studio and am looking forward to having this time carved aside to explore new media and more productivity. 


In pursuit of specific tonalities, you create your own oil paints. Can you talk about this process? How do you choose color and how does it influence each piece?

I find subtle mid-tones easier to achieve using the natural earth or plant pigments in my handmade paints and like to juxtapose those with the vibrant intensity of machine made paints.  I am wired to use things sparingly and find it harder to achieve restraint with traditional paints.  


Many external sources such as yoga, music, and textural fabric inform your work's perspective. Can you talk about the influence these things have on your different bodies of work and how each of them play a part in your work?

 Yoga allows me to have more control over what I put in my work.   If I can process or digest certain experiences through yoga and meditation, I am less dependent on processing them all through art and can more freely choose what emotions and experiences I want to include in my work.  


Studying and playing music has helped me appreciate space and breathing room. A quiet but not empty pause is part of the preceding or following sound making it whole.  Musical dissonance, harmony and melody resolution are all helpful when considering color interactions. 


Plant made fabrics like denim, and thick weave linen or hemp  inform my perspective by inspiring the incorporation of touch.  Most of my work is not intended to be actually touched but to stir a touch sense-memory or desire.   Observing how fabric sheen affects color has also been informative.