Beth Meadows

Giving into Propaganda (& all its glory!)

Beth MeadowsComment

In the spring (which was easily one of the busiest times of my life) I created some of my most favorite artwork to date.

One reason I liked this work so much was because, besides Sweet Treats, it was one of the only shows where I created all new pieces, something that has been hard for me to accomplish in the past several years. 

It was also work that felt very formulaic- once I decided what it was I wanted to do, I just had to do it. There wasn't a lot of guess work, like when I'm painting on canvas, so going into my studio, there wasn't the usual pacing around before working. I could jump right into it. 

It's overwhelming, but at this point in my life, when I make artwork, it feels like it's about everything I think about all at once. It's funny to realize this series references an idea I studied in elementary school- that of Propaganda.

I learned early on that food companies (were evil and) made their packaging in a way that would make me want to buy it and that this packaging would not necessarily reflect the quality of the food it encased. Since then, that information has been in the back of my brain when I shop and has cast a dark shadow over the joy of consumerism. (Ignorance truly is bliss.)

As you might assume, I'm an incredibly visual person. I also get easily overwhelmed. So put me in a grocery store, a vast overwhelming sea of options with confusing price points and differing measurements, and tell me aesthetics shouldn't sway me, and you have one miserable artist with ADD on your hands.

So my idea for the food packaging women was to transform grocery shopping into something grand! I would cast off my skepticism of package designers and focus solely on the most attractive foods. I turned Kroger into an art supply store, and it was lovely.

When I returned home, my roommate noticed a theme in my loot- vintage looking packaging and international food. (Also, I ate candy for weeks...)

So I separated the packaging from the food and took it to my studio. The supermodels I chose were all ready torn out of magazines and were determined based on their clothes, position, and how they would look on a white piece of paper. 

It took some time to find the most efficient order of steps. I would draw the "skin" of the model. Then I picked the packaging I felt most resonated with the original clothing, and after a series of meticulous tracing, cutting with an X-acto knife, and glueing, they were complete.

I loved the methodic nature of each. I loved the straighforward-ness of it, almost like I was using a pattern to sew (something I sadly may never learn to do). I like the clean look of them on the white paper, and I like how, even though precision was necessary, I could let my natural inclination NOT to be precise come through. None of them are lined up and matched perfectly. They stray from the original.

And so my alluring food packaging reflects the allure of glamorous clothing that I will never be able to afford. However, where world famous designers use exquisite fabrics and materials, I used materials anyone could buy. I would venture to say I chose the materials as meticulously as any designer. The gathering of materials also shined light on the otherwise gloomy chore of grocery shopping. 

I often feel opposing emotions toward the fashion industry, and while I'm not trying to make any bold statement either way, I feel like this was a way to express both.