Beth Meadows

About the Artwork

About "Good Packaging"

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Good Packaging is the second iteration of the food packaging series, the first influenced by a desire to improve one of my least favorite tasks: grocery shopping. 

When it comes to going to the grocery store, I lack the knack for doing it efficiently. All of the brands and differing price points overwhelm me, so I spend far more time wandering the aisles than I'd like to. 

I also learned at a young age not to be swayed by fancy packaging, which for a visual person, really takes the joy out of looking at all those labels. 

To improve this task that I will spend the rest of my life doing, I decided to turn the grocery store into an art store, allowing myself to buy alluring items that I could use to make art. This shift has made a world of difference, and in my hunting, I do that thing I aspire to do as often as possible in my life: Lose track of time.

I'm also deeply fascinated by the fashion industry and like mixing images I find in magazines and on social media with my life in East Tennessee. 

In Good Packaging I explore:

  • themes of craftsmanship in the greater design world and also in folk art found in the mountainous region where I live. 
  • the inaccessibility of high fashion and the accessible materials I've chosen to work with.
  • the fashion world, a field and craft I greatly admire.
  • the positive and negative effects of food and fashion

About the Painting: Their Sadness Overwhelmed Them

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Title: Their Sadness Overwhelmed Them

Dimensions: 34 x 28"

Medium: acrylic, varnish, and food packaging collaged on canvas

Artist: (Me!) Beth Meadows

Painted In: I started this painting several years ago (maybe 2010??) and completed it this year, at the beginning of July.

Influences (Below is a window to my often hidden soul. Be warned.) and Process:

  • There was a time I was pretty sad. So most of my 20s, and before then, as a child up until high school... so, a long time. After college, almost every day for at least two years, I'd cry- at home, at work, in my car, and all other places in between. It was exhausting, terrible, addictive, and in moments of clarity, baffling and- not funny haha- but funny how I couldn't find my way out of it when I was in it. A few years out of the worst of it, I decided to make a painting that mocked depression's stupidity, and that painting is this painting. 
  • The space is based on the kitchen in my studio apartment in Maplehurst, the charming neighborhood in Knoxville I lived in right after college. (You could see the Sunsphere from the kitchen window.) It really was a magical place, full of musicians and free-spirited people. We all lived frugally but were creative enough to have a lot of fun adventures. Magical, chaotic, irresponsible- good words to describe that time. (Sidenote: If I had known how badly being irresponsible suited me, I would have known this was such a large part of my discontentment. But it took me ten more years to figure that one out, like only a month ago did I realize this. I bought (and maybe sometimes still buy) into the inaccurate theory that being an artist means living a care-free, chaotic, tethered to nothing life, but I've learned I am much more content being a responsible human being, a twist to my life I didn't expect nor have easily accepted.)
  • The cat: So you may have heard. I have a cat named Juicy, and she came with this very apartment in Maplehurst. No lie. The girl I sublet from left her there so I could have her. While I was not in great mental shape at this time, it was during those two years I started down the long road to recovery, and it was Juicy that first helped me. Well, God, and then Juicy. I have, and seriously had back then, a difficult time accepting love from others into my life, which I believe is the cause of a lot of my pain and searching. My sadness was too unbearable at that time, so I left Juicy for five weeks to go to L'abri in Switzerland to see if my depression could be dealt with there (It was and I love that place for this reason). I don't know if it was God, but what may have been God, told me to return to Knoxville and "Accept All Amounts of Real Love" specifically, let that cat's love into my life. And so it was Juicy's presence that started me down a better path. I was still terribly sad, but when I'd come home to that cat rolling and meowing in dirt at the sight of me, I'd pick up her soft fleshy body and relish in all of her warmth and purring love. It's a vulnerable thing to admit, but it is the reason I painted this, and it's the reason I love that little angel cat dearly.
  • At the not great advice of a peer who critiqued the painting many years ago, I got stuck on how to complete it, so I didn't touch it for several years. I also realized it had a striking and unintentional "Alice in Wonderland" quality, which also caused me to hesitate. In the end, I just embraced that quality. I watched that movie a lot when I was younger, so it was bound to show up sooner or later.
  • 2016 starts. This year has been a little nuts in terms of transition. I cancelled my one art show scheduled. A week later, Sarah, the former manager at Old City Java, asked if I would hang artwork there within two weeks. I said yes because I like OCJ but knew I had to complete some unfinished work in order to have enough to show. So I picked up this panting again.
  • I refined the girl and added in more objects swirling around. I added the food packaging as a shout out to the series I created in 2014 of supermodels with food packaging as their clothing. I am currently making another similar series.
  • I also went ahead with my original plan- the one I previously got stuck on- to tint varnish blue and paint over the acrylic to insinuate water. I wasn't sure how it would work, but it went over pretty smoothly.
  • The tears were the last touch and my favorite thing about this painting! When I was a kid, my family went to the circus. We were pretty far away from the circular stage but still able to see this one clown's tears shooting from his eyes when he'd get hurt. I loved it so much!! I added these in to talk about how ridiculous depression is, like drowning and no one can throw you a life line. Except for maybe the sweetest and most empathetic cat, loving you one day at a time. 

It is for sale, and you can find it by clicking Shop above. 

 

So here is what I want to write about:

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1. MY ARTWORK

For some reason it's become hard for me to sit down and write an artist statement, so much so, I didn't include one in my last show. I think it's fine to do without one if it's not coming easily, but I'd still like to share the backstory of my artwork, and it would be nice to do that informally here.  For example, I envision posting a photo of a painting and then making a list of all the things that influenced it, as opposed to writing out a small and formal essay (aka an artist statement). I like lists. I like them a lot. (See: This post)

2. TRANSPARENCY OF JOY & PAIN

I've been thinking about the potential disconnect between my social media account and Real Life and hope writing can bridge that gap.

I try not to relay negative things on social media because I don't feel like it's the best place for that. So I keep it light (instead of telling you how often I think about giving up making artwork or how many panic attacks I've had about money. You know, that kind of thing). 

At the same time, while I know deep in my heart that most people are also only putting their ***Best** on social media, it can be such a hard place to be in because we can't not compare ourselves to others. If we don't see the hard things in others' lives, we start to wonder if and why we are the only ones who are unhappy/ poor/ lonely/ fill in the blank. And I don't want to contribute to that either. On multiple occasions, people have come up to me in Real Life and told me I must be doing so well because that's what it looks like from Instagram. Oh, brother...

So I'm here to tell you, that just ain't true. My life is equal parts joy and struggle. Yes, I am doing well. And I am also prone to fits of panic, and a lot of other fun things. 

3. ENCOURAGEMENT

Through sharing challenges, struggles, fear, panic, frustration, etc., etc., my hope is that I can offer encouragement to others who are pursuing something they love or frustratedly daydreaming about it. We're all in the same boat here, the boat-of-not-knowing-what-the-heck-we're-doing (#illustrationidea). Yes, it can be wonderful to pursue a dream. Yes, it is also really painful. 

I deeply want to help artists, or anyone with creative endeavors, to jump the hurdles that are undoubtedly in front of them by sharing my experiences. 

4. INSIGHT AS AN ARTIST

I've had a little baby spark of a desire to start a lecture and How To series for artists and recent art grads in Knoxville. I'd love to talk about things that I've learned in my decade+ since school in hopes that others can bypass a lot of the pitfalls I faced.

I'd also like to share what I think Knoxville needs to help support artists and encourage artists to view themselves as savvy business people from the moment they cliche-ly throw that cap up in the air and saunter into the Real World. And just maybe, that insight could apply to people in other cities, too. 

I want to start developing some of those ideas here. 

5. MY GOALS

I'd like to talk about goals I have, which may be no fun for anyone else to read, but it will hopefully help me think through some things. Maybe you can help me with them?

6. STORY TIME/ MIXED BAG

I want to write for fun and for the challenge of it. I want to put words together, and I want to form sentences and paragraphs with those words to talk about intriguing things I come across in my life. They're all a part of my internal thought process that can well up in me when I'm in my studio in a very overwhelming way.

I wonder if writing will help tame that beautiful stallion with ADD (aka my brain) and feel like methodically filing away a mound of papers piled up on the floor of my mind. It's a tall order, but I'll try it.