NOSTALGIA / TECHNOLOGY / PARANORMAL / SUPPORT / NON-EXISTENT
Megan Queenan is a 4th Year Painting & Printmaking student (and recent graduate!) from GSA. Megan interrogates our relationships to technology in a wildly multidisciplinary practice, as she talks us through not fitting the mould.
Tell us a bit about yourself and where you're based.
Hi! I’m Megan (she/her), a Glaswegian based artist and native, I typically work in mixed media but always gravitate towards my usual trifecta of casting, installation, and printmaking. I’m currently about to graduate from my 4-year degree in Painting and Printmaking and, to be honest, still struggle to actually answer the question of what category my work fits neatly into…probably because it doesn’t.
What I can answer for sure is that my work is influenced by a deep and unapologetically nerdy love of sci-fi and nostalgic late 90’s/early 2000’s technology, an interest in human psychology, morbid curiosity, the paranormal, and a passion for generating important discussions around our perceptions of death and posthumous data protection.
What do you make & how do you make it?
I make work about our relationships with technology and coming to terms with our mortality through the vessels of defunct and nostalgic devices. I draw connections between the rise of technology with our fascination in contacting spirits, I want people to consider why we attribute technical anomalies to the paranormal and how that might feed into the ever-persistent issue of death denial in our individual communities.
The artwork I make varies wildly in terms of what medium they’re in, I experiment a lot in trying out unconventional and experimental approaches to the mediums I choose to work within. Ultimately though, I use them together to create a space in which the artwork can host impossible conversations- perhaps they’re with the viewer, perhaps another artwork. I usually host a combination of tangible pieces and projected or digitised ones.
What has been your biggest challenge to navigate?
Casting and mould making from home in a safe manner that doesn’t destroy the house, sustaining a feeling of community and support while we’re all still staying at home, fighting off the overwhelming imposter syndrome/depression/anxiety, scouring the internet for that one very specific YouTube tutorial on how to use Adobe Animate at 2am, finding the right time of day to film outdoor projector projects at after the evenings started to get lighter, and remembering to habitually check my bloody emails.
How do you think your practice sits in today's context?
I’m absolutely fascinated in the digital ghosts we leave behind of ourselves on our devices and social media accounts in death, and the social complications of who owns it and who can alter the settings on the accounts we leave behind after we’ve gone. It’s a much more complicated topic than we often give credit towards, we often don’t own the rights to the digital self we construct and assigning a next of kin that isn’t related by blood is an incredibly tricky task.
Nostalgia is a key component of what inspires the choice of technology represented in the work I do; I find the phenomena of nostalgia to be a very grounding experience that reminds us of passing time and the fleeting nature of our own existence. It can teach us to value the people and objects we possess in the present while we can, and to tell us that its okay for things to disappear from our peripheral for a time- because memory is a powerful tool, one which grants us the immortality we seek while acknowledging our finite mortality.
What's next on your practice-agenda? Goals, projects or any upcoming shows perhaps?
Currently very eager for in-person courses to boot up once again so I can learn how to carve stone and cast with bronze and other metals, also on the lookout for an affordable studio space that’s out of the house with more space to create larger and more ambitious works. I’m also really interested in reaching out to innovative practitioners working in the sciences to combine forces and work on some really cool projects together, maybe even the odd mortician, who knows! I would just love to work on collaborative projects with people working in entirely different fields and disciplines than just art.
Exhibitions this year have unfortunately been non-existent but keep an eye out for the alternative student degree show this year! *wink wink*
Final words of advice for your peers?
“Productivity is an illusion, stop comparing your practice to others!!!!” was a note I kept on just about every sketchbook page to remind myself of for every single work session. Be kind to yourself and nurture your practice by putting things into perspective whenever you can, it’s the best way to keep going when everything seems like its going wrong and you feel like you’re not doing enough. Most importantly: it’s okay and perfectly normal to just stop for a while, be that hours, days, or months.
Also: LISTS! Lists, lists. Lists!! I live, breathe, and die by them. Divide the workload up into reasonable daily sections, break any large-scale tasks down into smaller and more specific mini-tasks, and make sure to include things like getting out of bed, eating, resting, errands, etc. on there, those count too! Ticking each one off, as sad as it sounds, was really quite a rewarding achievement.
Biggest piece of advice I’ve learned this year though? A cup of tea and a digestive biscuit can, and will, cure all.
Keep up to date on Megan's work by following her on Instagram at @meganqueenan.art and you can also see her work at https://www.meganqueenan.co.uk and through the GSA Graduate Showcase viewable online here!