Beth Meadows

fashion

Mountaintop Moment

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When I was little, my family went on trips to Gatlinburg. One of my favorite shops was owned by a man from South America, and everything in his store was from his home country*.

I loved all the different textures and colors in his shop. Hand-painted beads, little knit animal finger puppets, thick colorful sweaters.

I'd buy small things with the money my parents gave me, but one glorious trip, they bought my sisters and me each a sweater. I chose the deep blue one with colorful mountains, 3D people sewn on, climbing up to the top, toward the bright yellow sun in the sky.

Whenever I'd wear it, I'd feel all the different textures. I thought it was beautiful, and I wore it with pride. I, too, had been known to climb mountains, and this was my way to show the world. I even immortalized it that year in my school picture**.

Thinking back to the happiness of this time, I am 99.7% sure it was absolutely not a cool sweater at all.

While my friends wore sweet t-shirts to convey what they deemed worthy of their adoration, I chose a garment that looked like my grandmother had bought it for me, or maybe worse, made for me. But the beautiful part? I didn't know it wasn't cool, I just liked it, and I rocked that mofo out with a big ole bow on top of my head. A BIG BIG bow...

I conjure up this memory and wonder, is that ignorantly blissful girl still in there, or have I done her in? Can she help the minimalist/ lazy/ practical/ (hiding) clothing wearer I have become? What wonderful marriage would happen if she hung out with the woman I am today?

I know for a fact, they'd do some damage on some KRAFT mac & cheese. That's. For. Sure.

 

*I want to say Peru...

**Photo to come. Still looking for it.

Name Your Price: Just Blousing Series

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NAME YOUR PRICE {happens every Wednesday}

Today I'm mixing it up a bit! I'm offering 4 different fashion drawings from a 2016 series called Just Blousing and you can Name Your Price on one or more.

They are 8x10" mixed media, and if you're in Knoxville, I'll also throw in the white matte and frame.

It's easy to win!

1. Visit withbearhands.com/NYP 

2. Read all the details.

3. Fill out and submit the form by Sunday, June 4 at midnight EST.

4. Best offer will claim some original art!

Wooden Ladies

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I watched Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette again last week, and it got me thinking about a piece of artwork I made in 2015:

Wooden Lady, reclaimed wood in salvaged window, 2015

Wooden Lady, reclaimed wood in salvaged window, 2015

Inspired by this:

I was working at The Salvage Shop then, and as usual, coming up with ways to re-use all the wood we had on hand, a mission that inspired the hundreds of mason jars I printed and painted on salvaged wood during my years there. 

Her face is tongue and groove flooring, her headdress is wood that was all ready painted white and I added gold accents, her blouse painted and carved wood. The frame is an old window from some house in East Tennessee that probably has vinyl windows now.

The carved blouse was inspired by a box I bought in Haiti that summer. Something about the painted wood, then carved, gets to me deeply, so much so I daydream about living in a different country, making colorful jewelry and carved and painted wooden boxes by the ocean...

Anyway...

The same year I made the wooden lady, I also made this:

Dolce & Gabbana, food packaging on paper, 11 x 14"

Dolce & Gabbana, food packaging on paper, 11 x 14"

Inspired by this:

Karlie Kloss in Dolce & Gabbana

Karlie Kloss in Dolce & Gabbana

And it seemed to be a favorite of the Good Packaging series, I think because of the floral headdress and striking stare. Also probably the lace dress. It's a solid image all around. 

I always wanted to make more wooden women. "Wooden Ladies" has been on my To Do list for two years, and I'm excited because I'm ready to make more. 

So I've been searching the internet and saving images on Instagram. My goal is to make three by the end of the month. My inclination is to make them wildly intricate, but they will be a little different than the first one I made.

While we wait for them, here are some of the images I found for inspiration, the last one an added bonus because it's ridiculous. 

 

 

 

Money, Part 1: Show Me the Money

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I spend a lot of time looking at glossy magazines and Instagram accounts of supermodels and fashion designers because this is what I make artwork about. Every now and then I ask myself if I shouldn't pick a different subject matter for the sake of my emotional and mental well-being. If someone were to ask (no one has) I would tend to say that most women should NOT look at supermodels' Instagram accounts on the regular. But I do, and it's stirred up an interesting mix of emotions within me. 

Since college, I've prided myself on being thrifty. Literally, I've mostly bought clothes from thrift stores. I love second hand things, giving them a new life. You may know that I even created and ran a shop that helped people recycle home decor and building materials for five years. I have been the happy recipient of probably thousands of dollars worth of food and items that others didn't want (I would love to know that number by the way- the monetary value of all the things I've received for free).

I've never had cable, and I didn't have the internet for a long time. I never cared how much anyone I dated made. I never had a job that paid particularly well. I was just so NOT materialistic, guys.

Then I started to become fascinated with fashion and design, and it didn't take me long to realize that I was in fact SUPER materialistic but just too broke to do anything about it. My virtuous way of life was shattered, and I didn't even get to have the leather purses or gold jewelry to ease my pain. 

I've been studying the fashion industry for several years now, and it was the gateway drug that led me to to pop music, rap, then country (?!?) I had never before allowed myself to be immersed in this culture. Deep down I knew I had liked it all along, but I had friends that wouldn't approve and so I snubbed my nose at it, too.

Today, I happily scroll through Justin Bieber's Instagram and see all of the exotic places he travels, the decadent and outlandish clothes he wears. It's like a needle to my vain. 

At the same time, I currently have a job that allows me time to listen to podcasts, and so I've been listening like crazy. Several times recently, I've heard famous people talk about the lack of happiness at the top- Money truly doesn't buy you happiness.

You know I know this. I do. Everyone does, right?

I'm currently working on many internal things in my life I've long neglected which is helping with so much of the external, how I relate to the world. I'm drawing closer to friends and family in a way that I never have. I'm taking care of myself better than ever and would go so far to say that looking at fashion magazines has actually helped me care for myself better in a lot of ways. I'm making goals for myself and working toward them. I'm becoming more disciplined and engaged so that I can live a life I'm proud of. The past is still being dealt with and the present isn't perfect, but I'm pretty sure one could call me content. It's new and good. 

But... BUT...

There is a part of my heart that is encrusted in diamonds and gilded with gold and it wants every pretty thing. For whatever reason (I blame my swank lineage) I have champagne taste, but I don't even have a beer budget*. I barely have a coffee budget. 

There are times, many times, I just really want to have so much money I don't know what to do with myself. If we admit we're materialistic, isn't that the dream? I don't want anyone to tell me that it's lonely at the top. I want to know it for myself. I want to make so much money that I can book that $10,0000 a night penthouse Airbnb. Like freakin' Beyonce. (Don't worry, I'll invite you all) I want to love everything I put on because it's beautifully designed and tailored. I'm not satisfied with rich celebrities merely telling me this lifestyle can't buy happiness. I want to know that it can't. Just for, let's say, a year. Send me on this mission so that I can tell the world money can't buy happiness. I'll gladly do it. 

And then I'll happily go back to my cable-free, quarry swimming East Tennessee life. 

 

*My grandfather told me once, "You can't have champagne taste on a beer budget." I think he knew I'd struggle with this one. 

Reality/Dream/Reality

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Almost a year ago, I was at my parents' house and found all my beads and hemp necklaces from high school. Making really bad jewelry used to be one of my favorite pastimes.

The beads sat on a shelf in my closet for months, but I pulled them down about a month ago and made earrings until 2 am one morning.

This came at a time when I read something that asked, "What enjoyable activity makes you lose track of time?" and I could name ZERO. Even art was not on my list, at least not at that very moment. I couldn't think of any activity that took me away from checking my phone every two seconds.

I felt so bad about this. Something had to be done. 

It took a few days for me to open up those bead boxes and connect again to that joy or getting lost in something. And, for me, to do any activity other than watch Netflix at that hour is nothing short of a miracle. 

Since then I have had visions of making more elaborate pieces, but I don't know how. 

***

Last night I had a dream about visiting an exhibition where an artist displayed different beautiful beads and gems on the walls of a rectangular white room with high ceilings. Dim lighting spot-lighted the beads. They were for sale and a lot had been picked through. I was late to come to the exhibition. It was actually about to end, but there were still plenty of beautiful ones left to choose from. My hands were soon full.

***

This morning, I did a two minute internet search and emailed someone about taking a jewelry-making class. 

Giving into Propaganda (& all its glory!)

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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. 

Sweet Treats: About

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Early this year, I began making wooden cut-outs of cats inspired by my much beloved cat Juicy. These cats were an extension of the mason jar artwork I've been creating for several years now. Both share a folk art style and are painted or printed on wood. These qualities come from my deep interest in East Tennessee craft and an affinity toward painted wooden toys and signs found in the South.

This past July, I created a series of 15 cats that were displayed together salon-style at Old City Java. Sweet Treats is a more systematic approach of that same idea which incorporates pattern, color, and negative space and allows each piece to work together as a whole. It also was a way to introduce food into this series, a subject I hope to continue. 

Other inspirations for this piece include textile patterns found in women's fashion. 

Sweet Treats is currently for sale as a whole until December 1 at a 25% discount. After December 1, each piece may be purchased separately.