AIR Introduction: Megan Magee Sullivan

Hello, I’m happy to introduce myself as the new Risograph Artist-in-Residence in Photography & Digital Arts at Flower City Arts Center. For the next 6 weeks I will be experimenting with the Risograph duplicator. As a producer of visual books, I’m excited to see how the Risograph will expand my ability to execute projects that involve images and text.

Photo by Jeremy Moule

As an interdisciplinary artist who creates books and experimental video, I appreciate how the two relate as time-based media. I utilize elements of personal and collective history, erasure poetry, and materials gathered from various public and private archives to examine the constructs of religion, family, and memory.

I’m looking forward to using the Risograph to execute a book project over the next several weeks. I will keep you up to date on my progress through the blog and my instagram @maggiemagees.

www.meganmageesullivan.com

AIR Introduction: Megan Barrette

Hi everyone! I’m so thrilled to be here this summer as an Artist-In-Residence. I’d love to take this chance to introduce myself.

Nothing makes me feel more vulnerable than photography. Before it was my job, before it was my course of study, it was first my greatest means of connection. Not only was it a creative outlet, it quickly became something that made me feel like I was valuable in the eyes of other people. So much of my ego hinged on what I made that, when the time came to actually follow it, I became more fearful. School was difficult; I thought about quitting numerous times. Post-grad was even harder, trying to advocate for myself and my worth as an artist. But creating my own work outside an institution or installed structure is a different beast entirely. It’s so much easier to make my art in a vacuum. To show it to the family, friends and fellow artists that love me.

On sharing work, one of my closest friends reminded me of this recently:

I’ve had incredible, supportive friends echo sentiment to me the past few weeks. I am so grateful for this opportunity to be an Artist-in-Residence at Flower City Arts Center. It is nothing short of a dream come true. My goal here is to make something that is honest and that hopefully connects you and me.

Photography is usually my way of working through a recurring thought. I tend to find catharsis in the construction of metaphors that make the world feel less chaotic. I don’t know if life is truly as symbolic as the narrative I actively pursue to build or if I’m reading too much into it. But my mind tends to ruminate – to overthink, and I’m trying to find solace in making the details matter.

I love to live in the space between analog and digital. I often incorporate motion into my work as a means of experimentation and expression. The classes I will soon be teaching will be motion-based workshops!

During my residency, I’ll be working on developing imagery that explores the relationship between photography and memory. I’m really looking forward to the next couple of months here participating in this great community and making work alongside other artists. I’ll surely be sinking a lot of time into the Lighting Studio and new Digital Art Studio, so I hope to see you there!

And as She Came, She must Go

Endings.

 

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:


WHY? WHAT HAPPENED?

 

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.