And as She Came, She must Go



It takes a great deal of grace and experience to learn how to make the most out of an ending.


Today is my final blog post as an Artist in Residence in the Photography and Digital Arts Department at the Flower City Arts Center.


The culmination of my year-long residency resulted in something I prayed for deeply and repeatedly but didn’t expect: stepping out as a performance artist.

My whole life I have been interested in movement. When I was three I refused to remove a tutu for three days straight. I wanted to be a ballerina. In my teens, I was an athlete using nutrition and exercise to sculpt my body and my endurance. In my twenties, I fell in love with yoga. I have always loved to dance and challenge my body to move, stretch, grind, and groove.


The artifacts of my residency–deeply researched and painstakingly curated photographs–are now being stored away until further notice. However, in the gallery space where they were on view during the month of April, they contributed to an enveloping feeling of transformation.


I make art for my mental well being because I must. Yet the truly fulfilling experience is the impact my art has on my audience. The feedback I receive about personal insights, inspirations, and transformations from people interacting with my work fuels my soul. I am grateful to have received a healthy dose of uplifting feedback from the Rochester community. This reveals to me a community ready for a transfusion of new feminine archetypal energy.


The work pushed me. My choice to do a performance haunted me. I had to show up for myself in ways I had never done before–push myself along and over edges that scared the heck out of me. The reality of the performance caused such fear to rise up in my bowels that I asked myself frequently, “why did I do this to myself!?”

I did it because I must. Because I am unsatisfied with a life of status quos, mediocrity, and normalcy. I crave the depths, connection, transformation, inner purpose, beauty, connection, healing, joy, sorrow, expression, recognition. I am grateful to myself, to my guides, to my mentors and friends, and to Megan Charland who had faith in my vision. So, I built an altar and sanctified a space for transformation to take place, within me and within the other, in unison.


Now What?


A tiresome question for an artist at the apex of a big project.


It is an abrupt sort of question to receive right at the level of commencement or just following.


My response: Let’s just be present a while in what is currently surrounding us or what has just emerged. I anointed myself in my own menstrual blood and buried myself in a mound of dirt. What follows is a psychological grace period where I slowly integrate the power of my actions and take long naps.


There is a practice of staying indoors with a newborn baby for 40 days just the following birth. This second gestational period post birth allows the child’s nervous system to fully settle. The kundalini teachings say that after this time if taken in rest and connection with the parents, the child is set for life with a healthy nervous system.

Who does this? In a fast-paced world that demands much of us, most newborns are in car seats, whizzing around the world to social gatherings, before they are a week old. I have thought of this practice often in the time following my performance, feeling deeply renewed and unknown even to myself as I reconfigure who I am and what I am capable of.


You will be able to find me at the Flower City Arts Center through the Spring for a number of elementally charged classes. You will also be able to find me at The Yards throughout June as one of six artists in residence in their summer program. I am looking forward to deepening my commitment to ritual and movement practice, building community, and producing more experiences to evaluate and enjoy our aliveness in.

Body Autonomy and Femininity

What does it look like for a woman to have agency over her body? What does sexual sovereignty look and feel like in the bedroom and on the street? What sort of relationships evolve with self, soul, body and other when a woman stops seeing her body as a vessel of god’s will and a vessel of her own free thinking, powered by the divine creative principle?


When we begin to re-imagine the feminine in its entirety, and femininity as a powerful expression of sensuality and creation, a healing takes place within our minds, identities, and communities.

Good Wife Mock-up

Throughout my residency, I have used the camera within my domicile and in the studio to catalog an ongoing inquiry of my relationship to sensuality, intimacy, sexuality, performance of femininity and expression of empowered feminine principles. I have worked with significant feminine archetypes, costume, lighting, set design and movement to navigate feelings of isolation, desire, morality, and internalized oppression whereas my body has been the subject of considerable collective sexual objectification throughout my life.  As I reflect on my time at the Flower City Arts Center I recognize how much I continue to hold myself back in expressing my body, and my work, as my own. Too often, I seek external permission to be transgressive as a means of cultural transformation.

Strength On Point

I recognize I am taking part in the cultural changes currently underway. Yet, I am still finding my voice, learning how to amplify it in an ocean of wisdom that continues to build momentum against systemic oppression of the feminine, nature and a queer, inclusive future. This is to say there is work to do, and I am here to do it. My mission at this moment is to come into more clarity, synthesis, and efficacy in implementing my vision, my philosophy and my dharma in the world. I am here to be a leader, a cultural change agent, and it is my commitment to be very good at it.

Myths of the Sacred Wound opens Saturday, April 6th-27th. Opening Reception from 5-8pm Saturday, April 6th. Live Performance at 7:22 pm.

Failure is Not an Option

Bad News.


I sent my 4×5 Portra 160 film and one roll of Portra 400 120mm film from the last three studio sessions I have done with the hopeful anticipation of getting back some beautiful images. I was going to take these large format film sheets and make composite images for my final prints for my show opening April 6th.


One-for-one, the 4×5’s were unexposed. The questions that arise here are:



We used the meter and set up the lighting. Yes, the lens cap was off,. Yes, slides had been removed. We even used my digital camera to set our exposure and aperture to get a good idea of out lighting situation. Likely, they’d be a little underexposed, but since I’d be scanning and digitally printing I had some room for error. I could always bring up the exposure in photoshop.

Louis Chavez in the Studio


But something, somewhere, at some point, got lost in translation.


Edgar at Praus couldn’t figure why. Megan Charland promised it would drive her mad until she figured out what could have happened; she’s reaching out to fellow film heads to get some answers. Louis Chavez was incredulous.


Personally, I had to take a moment to just allow the disappointment to sink in. There is heartbreak here. It’s sort of the worst case scenario when it comes to film development; your film doesn’t turn out or is ruined at some point in the development process.


I watched. I breathed. I bathed.


Then, I made dinner. And in the middle of making dinner, surrounded by potential turmoil and the churning of a New Moon in Pisces, Mercury stationing Retrograde and this unfortunate failure, I had a resolve.


This is a test. A test of my resilience, my creative perspective. A test of surrender, problem solving and determination. I wasn’t gonna get caught up in a failure spiral. Instead, I was going to be a f*$king bad a$$ and turn this all into creative potential immediately.


I wrote a blog post for my Creative Cycles Mentorship page (here). And I decided to focus on what WAS working and what I had to work with.

Set Design for “The High Priestess”


Good News.


The 120mm film that Louis Chavez shot for me turned out great. I have also used my digital camera as a back up in every one of my sessions to ensure there was some form of an image to work with. You know, just in case the film sucked or turned out poorly.


I have time, resources and community support to work my final images into something beautiful, profound and important. I have time after my show to reshoot in film if I so desire (which I do).


My resolve was to understand and accept that a failure within a process is not a reflection of my identity. I failed, but I am not a failure. The failure is an opportunity to learn, grow and develop my character, my creative ingenuity and my problem-solving skills.


This failure gives me an opportunity to ask the images what they want and need from me and how I can be in service to their final expression rather than take a controlling and perfectionist driven position.


Surrender, allow flow.


My resolve was to focus on what WAS working and what I DID have rather than drowned in the despair of what wasn’t available and what didn’t turn out.


Isn’t that such an important lesson for life situations?! True creative mastery and flow evolve from focusing on what is right in front of you, giving attention to what is working and allow THAT to drive you forward into the next stage of success.

Tarot Through The Seasons

Greetings and Salutations!

Have you ever stepped into something that you didn’t quite feel ready for, only to find yourself thriving in unexpected ways?

That’s exactly how my Tarot Through the Seasons classes at the Center has been for me.

We started in January with the Death Archetype discussing functions of endings, transitions, and beginnings. Being steeped as a community in the dead of winter, attendants were ripe for a conversation regarding what was dying and shedding in their own lives. During the discussion, I emphasized the importance of building a relationship with death and endings as well as the time of grief and uncertainty that follows. We are a culture deprived of a healthy relationship to death and grief. People are always apologizing for tears or a show of emotion not realizing that both are essential and healthy components of psycho-spiritual healing and integration.

Artist, Megan Charland, mixed media on card stock, 8 in x 8in

The High Priestess Archetype followed closely after Death and here was gathered a very powerful group of women. When asked why they were drawn to the class, each attendant responded in their own way by expressing awareness and a desire for something more than their current spiritual model. They were aware of a latent interest or power within which was connected to an external power that they wanted to get closer to. Lucky for them the High Priestess, who holds domain over the realms of intuition, mystery, dreams, and vision, is a good ally to build a relationship with when starting to reconnected to traditionally feminine and earth-based ways of knowing and being in the world. I spent all of 2018 in deep connection with her and she continues to inform the direction of my life in terms of Archetypal influence.

Artist, Class Participant, mixed media on card stock, 8 in x 8in

In February, the month of Love, we delved into The Lovers card. We discussed the importance of the sacred marriage within; the balancing of the masculine and feminine principles within each of us. It was important to me to create a non-traditional, community, and self-focused class. One which provided a sense of empowerment to love oneself rather than look for fulfillment in the other. Indeed, we need one another and as a culture, we are touch deprived and sexually disconnected. However, it is also necessary to learn how to give to ourselves, how to receive, and most importantly, what we want and need and how to communicate those things in competent ways in our relationships.

Artist, Class Participant mixed media on card stock, 8 in x 8in

Each class begins with a tea meditation and a brief correlation between the mind and the body through the elements and the practice of tea sharing. We quickly move into lecture and discussion, concluding this initial portion of the class with a deep, custom made visualization exercise to calm the mind and stir up the subconscious before exploring our collage making. While each participant delves into their collage making to some sweet tunes, I pull one person aside at a time and do a mini (4 card) reading with them. These readings have been so juicy and rich-the place I feel I am growing the most and offering the best of myself. With the cards at our aid, participants have been opening up to deeper queries of purpose, direction, and growth while receiving valuable insight and structuring tools from me and the cards. It’s really very profound.

If you’re interested in experiencing the class for yourself, you’ll have one more chance on March 17th to join us for The Star. This is an archetype whose focus is renewal, regeneration, balance and new beginnings, just in time for Spring!

I’m also delighted to announce I’ll be teaching a similar set of classes in the Spring focused on the elements earth, air, fire, and water. We’ll go deep with the intelligence and alchemical properties of each element and create collages to honor them. Check out the new Spring Schedule for dates and times!

This Is All For Me

Today is the first day of a New Year on the Gregorian Calendar. A societally ordained freshness slated for beginning new patterns of self.


I am focused on two things:


1) Boundaries


2) Imperfection


My word for the year 2019 is “Boundaries.”


As a caretaking, creative, femme, empath, socialized by family and society to disregard my own needs, wants and desires, BOUNDARIES become a sanctuary in which I can rage, create and divine myself without apology.

Rage, Create, Divine, 2018

My Boundaries are Sovereign. My Boundaries are my Sovereignty.


There is a program. It’s called “Being Nice.” “Being Pleasant.” “Being Helpful.”


All these programs are about feminine socialization. “Be Nice,” teaches women to put men’s sexual needs, preferences, desires and feelings before there own. Not universally and not only men and not only women who date men. But for me personally and for many women I have spoken to, concern for hurting a man’s feelings during a sexual encounter has kept us silent to our own boundaries simply because we did not want to “hurt his feelings.” Literally, put our own bodies boundaries and desires second to the feelings of the other. This. Infuriates. Me.


“Be Pleasant” keeps us silent in the face of injustice ON A DAILY BASIS.


“Be Helpful” conditions us to prioritize the needs of others and the domestic duties, primarily unpaid in a capitalist industry that eats away at our time and our sovereignty. I get it, we need to feed and bath and clean up after ourselves. But who made us believe we had to feed and bathe and clean up after the patriarchy. I’m angry and I’m already cutting off my own tongue not to speak against it. Internalized Sexism.


The primary Boundaries I am focusing on our my internal Boundaries.


Listening to, honoring and enforcing these Boundaries will lead to healthy external Boundaries. I am reclaiming my time, my energy and my daily ritual habits to give my life force over to my Purpose which is to Teach, to Write, To Heal and To Create Art.


This will bring us to IMPERFECTION.


Every. Creative. Impulse. Has fallen victim to an internal bottleneck.


(I speak for myself)


PERFECTION stifles creative expression. So, I invite myself, in light of this new day, to be messy, imperfect, undone, and unfinished and allow that to be what is present. I surrender to the chaos of the eternal divine beginning. She is a master of becoming.


It becomes less important to me if you understand this or find it appropriate or interesting. I trust it is for those who need it and who will it and for them, it will be as sweet an adaptogen as can be distilled from thought.


When you are looking at my images in April. When you are wondering where the ideas and meaning come from, know they are threaded here in these words, on this day of liberation.


I will be imperfect and impolite. I will be bloody and clear and direct. I will not apologize.

Community and Collaboration Part 2

Since I wrote my last post, and with my lecture series coming up in 2019, I’ve been thinking more and more about Community in the context of a healthy art practice.


For me, it can be really easy to isolate artistically. I struggle with some common self-sabotaging creative blocks like:


“Someone else has already done this, what’s the point of my doing it?”

“Someone will steal my ideas or get credit for my labor/ideas.”

“My ideas aren’t really important, good, relevant, etc…”


These, among a litany of other personal and collective messages about creativity and artists, can really get in the way of a successful creative life. Community, but especially the COLLABORATION that emerges from Creative Community, is a way to break down barriers to art making.


Over the next three posts, I will be sharing encounters I have had over the last couple of weeks that emphasize the importance of community and collaboration as an artist. This week, we’ll start with Louis.


Louis Chavez


Photo of Louis Chavez by Megan May, iphone

I met Louis through a friend of a friend. Louis Chavez is a Southern California transplant like me. They like to say, “We’re both California Girls.”


We both escaped our dessert hometowns to find healing and queer community in the cool moist air of the Northwest Coast. We’re ‘85 babies. We both love film photography. And, for now, we both reside in Rochester NY. Obviously, a collaborative duo destined in the stars.


Louis has encountered a lot of generosity as they have developed their photography practice. Friends, fellow photographers, willing to lend film, cameras and other resources in order that learning and creative development were possible.

Photo of Megan May by Louis Chavez, Film, Kodak Portra


Louis has taken this kindness and paid it forward with me. They’ve been willing to lend me film as well as their time and knowledge so I could understand my love of large format film photography better.


We’ve been meeting weekly for the past couple of months now. I feel very comfortable with Louis and during our last session, I started to get into an element of my performance practice that I usually only express when alone. I love the images he captured of my weird expression experiment.

Photo of Performance by Megan May photograph by Louis Chavez, Film, 120mm


My first two packs of 4” x  5” Kodak Film came in the mail this week (Ektar and Portra if you were wondering).


I’ll be moving much of my photographic practice into large format and I couldn’t be more excited. This wouldn’t be possible were it not for the collaboration and generosity with my friend Louis.


My ideas and my expression are important to Louis. He finds me inspiring and says so. His knowledge, patience, and support helps me feel confident and inspired too. When we work together we talk, laugh and create art. This collaborative relationship provides me with an experience to push back against of my limiting beliefs about my work and its importance. It is a very valuable bond.

I’ll be teaching a Lecture Series in the winter titled, “The Art of Being an Artist.” Lectures will take place on the third Thursday of the month January-March. In January my lecture will focus on the role of community and collaboration in my life as an artist. Look out for a full schedule of my lectures and classes and FCAC in the winter schedule!

follow Louis Chavez @llouischavezz &

Community and Collaboration Part 1


Hi Everyone!


Over the next couple of posts, I want to share my experience with community and collaboration as an Artist and why I think they are essential aspects of a healthy art practice.


As you know from recent posts, I moved here from Southern California. It’s a big distance to move and besides from several acquaintances and a couple friends of a friend, I didn’t really know ANYBODY.


Luckily, I moved here to be an Artist in Residence at a Community Art Center. Like it or not, by default I was going to be part of a community!


As a person and as an artist, community and collaboration have given me several very important things over the past couple of months.


First of all, the Community is a resource. It is a place to belong, to learn and to share wisdom, knowledge, and experiences. It is a balance between giving and receiving in a social and relational context.


Here is why this is important for Artists: sometimes we have BIG IDEAS and GRAND VISIONS. These big ideas and grand visions need a lot of support. They usually require us to develop new skills, find venues to share our work in, financial backing, people power, materials, time and space. That’s a lot for one artist to contend with. Or come up with alone.


Flower City Arts Center has connected me with people who have knowledge and skills I don’t have. Connecting with them is helping me grow my skill set and my art practice. It is also helping me refine the concept for my show in April and is helping me build relationships that are beneficial on a personal and professional level.


I have also had the pleasure of teaching while at FCAC. I have interacted now with both adults and youth in a facilitator position and this has been incredibly valuable. As an artist, teaching allows me to gain confidence in my own knowledge and skill set. Teaching helps me to experience first hand what value I bring to an environment. This is truly a remarkable feeling.

My teaching experience helps me refine my problem solving and organizational skills, helps me continue to define my value and purpose within the community and helps clarify where I have room to grow.


How has your community benefitted you as a person and an artist?


Stay tuned in for my upcoming posts on the same theme. I’ll be sharing about specific classes and people who have been integral to my residency so far!


I’ll be teaching a Lecture Series in the winter titled, The Art of Being an Artist. Lectures will take place on the third Thursday of the month January-March. In January my lecture will focus on the role of community and collaboration in my life as an artist. Look out for a full schedule of my lectures and classes and FCAC in the winter schedule!

What Does Femininity Mean to You? Part 2

Something incredible is happening for me.


As I continue to explore and research feminine expression through a larger cultural context, the idea of femininity is starting to break free of gender.


Femininity does not belong to any of us, but it belongs to all of us. It is there as an opportunity to be expressed, enjoyed and embodied.


She is the primordial energy of creation and is for each of us


I was listening to a panel discussion held by my teacher and friend, Guru Jagat with Shaman Durek and actress Kelly Rutherford. At one point Shaman Durek calls for “The Liberation of the Feminine,” and that struck a truth cord for me.


You can watch the discussion titled, “Alchemy of the Empowered Woman,” here.


The cross-cultural and expansive reclamation of powerful feminine expression is driving our cultural shift right now. There is no doubt in me about that.


For me, it will continue to be a playful and critical analysis and expression of my own feminine alter egos and how my identity as a cis-gender woman has been informed by positive, toxic and co-opted expressions of feminine virtue.

She is an infinity expressed by each of us @meganjoymay

What Does Femininity Mean to You? Part 1


If you had a chance to join us on Instagram Live last week, you might have gotten the opportunity to hear me ask the question: What does femininity mean to you?


As I have been discussing the context of my work with others and getting reactions and responses, I am finding something happening with my own definition of femininity: it is softening.


I am softening to the process of what this work actually means to me and how it is likely going to change me over the next year.


A really big part of me doesn’t want to label anything as inherently feminine. That’s so binary!


Like, make-up is feminine, flowers are feminine (their predominantly hermaphroditic and a huge part of their reproduction process includes pollinators and seed spreading critters), pink is feminine or worse, feminine is emotional, irrational and weak.


These are the ways in which the Patriarchal Perspective has screwed my understanding, expression, and judgment of what it means to be feminine and express femininity.


I’m going to have to overcome some of my own unconscious biases and rejections of femininity within my own life and personhood. To be frank, that’s sort of scary and liberating at the same time.


I’ll finish off with this, which I was able to articulate while talking with Jason Wilder during his artist talk. Ultimately, we live in a dualistic paradigm with non-dualistic tendencies.

It’s a paradox.

I love a good paradox.

It is my measure to hold capacity for the both/and. ‘Both/and” means it is ‘this’ and is it ‘that’ simultaneously. In this case, concerning femininity, it is both definitive and continuously in a state of flux.


This gives me some room to play.


Exploring my Feminine side with the help of Instagram Filters


Where to Begin?

When beginning to look at something as dynamic as identity, it can be challenging to know where to begin.


Who am I?

What am I? 

Why am I?


These sort of questions have always been of interest to me. I’ve studied Buddhism to  Vedic Theology, Philosophy, Christianity, History, Society and Psychology, Critical Feminist Theory, Human Sexuality, Neuropathology.

I’m a seeker and a life-long learner.


Ultimately, I think I am interested in answers of harmony, expression, creativity, connection, personal accountability, wisdom, justice, and mystery.


For me, the use of the Archetype acts as a container for capturing an ongoing evolution into multidimensional awareness of being and becoming. I seek to encounter a wholeness of self/ Self-understanding.  


I like this concept of self because it has two layers. You are a ‘self’ with a small ‘s’: this is your ego, your personality, your human identity. Then, without fail you are also a Self with a capital ‘S’: an exalted, pure and ever-connected Self that is Source or Consciousness seeking awareness of itself through your individual process. This concept of self as an individual and collective polarity seeking harmony through recognition is foundational to the works of C.G. Jung, Kashmir Shaivism, Yoga, and countless other teachings.


In Short: I am a self seeking Self.


This is both an internal as well as an external experience. And these facets influence one another constantly. We are porous to our surroundings and our surroundings porous to us.


The body of work and teachings that will develop during this residency will focus directly on this personal relationship with my self/Self-development as I nurture it with awareness.


I want to take a moment to discuss the significance of the term Archetype as well, as it is a foundational concept that will be guiding much of my creative research.


There once were two Western Psychoanalyst, their names were Sigmund Freud and Carl Gustav Jung. In the beginning, these men were cohorts, collaborating on the emerging field of Psychology and Psychoanalysis or the study of human mind and emotion. Their paths ultimately diverged at the topic of what Jung termed “The Collective Unconscious.” Freud dismissed the work of dreams, symbols and automatic writings as junk or excess of the conscious mind. Carl, on the other hand, sought deeper understanding. He studied mysticism, eastern philosophy, cultural mythology and kept a brilliant journal of his own dreams and symbols. The general understanding of the Archetype as we know it today comes from C.G. Jung’s preliminary work in this field.


An Archetype is a recurring expression of human virtue found in cultural mythology and literature. An Archetype is a quintessence of a particular set of character traits which are inherently subject to flaw and scrutiny.


What’s important about Archetypes is they can shape our understanding of ourselves without our conscious knowledge or consent and/or they can serve as a map for personal growth and self-knowledge. Idealized Archetypes might cause us to fragment ourselves into specific categories of social acceptability without questioning the validity or reality of the Ideal.


For example, a contemporary Archetype dichotomy is the virgin/whore. The virgin is sort of like the girl next door type: pious, virtuous, loyal and good wife material. The whore is a woman who enjoys sex for the sake of pleasure, dresses sensually, maybe uses lewd language. Up until recently it goes without saying which of these categories is idealized in a patriarchy and such idealism gives rise to slut shaming, victim blaming and rape culture. Women that dress and act a certain way are in some way asking for violence.


As a woman, this sort of cultural mythology has played itself out in my personal choices about how to act, dress and behave to remain safe, even if simply in terms of social harassment and exploitation. This has also affected the way I have categorized other people and their worth and how or whether I interact with them.


The influence of a cultural Archetype thus has far-reaching effects on the habits and emotions of human society.

Some Archetypes I will be engaging are collected from Traditional Jungian Psychology, Goddess Mythology, and Current Cultural Milieu. The Queen, the Mother, the Lover, the Old Woman, The Creator, The Destroyer, Drag, Mother Earth, the Witch, the Martyr, the Wolf Woman, the Shamaness, The Spiritual White Woman and the Cyborg.
If you’re interested in learning more or if you want to add to the conversation consider attending one of my courses at Flower City Arts. The first one, Superheroes, Archetypes and Idols, starts next Thursday, July 12 and runs for 6 weeks. We’ll talk further about reclaiming feminine archetypes and femininity through Archetype work and self-portraiture.

**Pictured: She Blooms in the Desert, 2016  a collaborative piece addressing symbols, connection, and ritual in everyday objects. The Art of Ritual.