Featured Artist Amy Meyer, Columbia, MO
Amy Meyer’s work is on display through October 1st, 2016 for the Late Summer Exhibit at Sager Braudis Gallery, and is also currently featured at Uprise in downtown Columbia. Meyer’s years as an art educator, and the experimental attitude required of a studio instructor, surely inform her unique process. Deep and textured layers, saturated hues, and balanced, serene arrangement of color fields are all characteristic of Meyer’s current work, and are features made possible through the medium of paste-consistency cold wax, combined with oil pigments and built onto wood panels in multiple stages. If you were able to attend the First Friday reception on September 2nd, you may have enjoyed the artist’s demonstration of her technique, and even gotten to chat with her about her work.
Gallery Director Hannah Reeves asks Meyer about her intriguing process, and how viewers can think about and engage this work.
Reeves: How did you develop and arrive at your cold wax and oil pigment process?
Meyer: I was at a point in my journey where I needed to break away from the representational work I had been steeped in. I began taking note of non-objective and abstract work and artists that caught my eye. Rebecca Crowell was an artist that we were exhibiting at the time and she worked in oil and cold wax. I found out through researching her work that she is the definitive authority on this process and teaches it all over the world. I enrolled in a seminar she was teaching over the summer and studied with her to learn the process.
Reeves: What does your choice of medium allow or achieve in your work that other 2-dimensional media might not?
Meyer: The medium allows for a great amount of texture, but also requires you to let go of the same kind of control you would normally have when painting traditionally with oil paints. Details are possible, but in a very different way. I rarely use brushes, for instance.
Reeves: Do you begin each painting with a composition in mind? To what extent does your process shape the final outcome?
Meyer: Part of the reason I love this process is that the beginning can be so different from the end result. With representational painting, those decisions are made before the painting begins. If I were to paint a portrait, I know what it should look like at the end. With this process the first layers can be very loose and used to primarily build up a foundation of texture. At some point I start to consider composition and make choices accordingly with an end result in mind, however it can still continue to change up until the very end!
Reeves: Could you talk a bit about meaning? Without a representational referent, some viewers may wonder how to begin understanding what you set out to convey. How should we be thinking about your artwork?
Meyer: At first, I was attracted to idea that this style lent itself to certain ambiguity of meaning. I didn’t want to think too hard about what my work meant. However, as you know, that’s not very realistic. Memories, emotions, and events seep into my thoughts as I work and therefore into my paintings. I don’t have a universal meaning to convey to the viewer, per se, but would invite them to consider what ‘layers’ both revealed and buried, smooth and rough, colorful and subdued, may mean or represent to them. On a personal level it reflects a depth of the personalities of those with which I interact. We are all so complex; sometimes we see just the surface layer, and other times deeper parts of us are revealed. The use of stencils buried within the work represents how difficult communication can be, even with and sometimes especially with those who know you best. Language can be such a limited method of conveying feeling and meaning that sometimes our intent gets lost and misconstrued.
Reeves: What inspires and influences you as an artist?
Meyer: Other artists. I've been fortunate to have had the chance to travel a bit. When I travel, I seek out art museums and as a result have been able to stand in front of many wonderful pieces that have moved me beyond words. Some of the artists have had the privilege to see that have stuck with me would be Richard Diebenkorn, Alice Neel, Hans Hoffman, Egon Schiele, Wayne Thiebaud, and Gerhardt Richter. Those are just a few well known names. I’m also constantly inspired by the artists around me that I have been lucky to get to know.