Beth Meadows

Good Packaging Artist Statement 2018

Beth MeadowsComment

Right now, I have work on display through the end of July at Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment in Huntsville, AL. This marks my first solo show outside of Knoxville, so if you're in the area, I hope you'll take some time to go see it.

You can find my Artist Statement below if you'd like to learn more about my thoughts behind this series. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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The Good Packaging Series first began in 2015, inspired by two unrelated things: a growing fascination with the fashion industry and my dislike for grocery shopping. To shift my perspective, I turned the grocery into an art store, buying alluring food package designs to use as materials, allowing colors and fonts to entice me for the first time, something I was taught at a young age not to do. It wasn’t quite like buying Gucci, but it sure felt indulgent, and I liked it.

This series of supermodels adorned in collaged packaging has evolved into works made using recycled textiles and materials with bold colors and patterns.

Pashmina 3x2' mixed media

Pashmina 3x2' mixed media

I have always been inclined to recycle materials. As an artist, I’m overwhelmed by the message to mass produce work, as I see many artists and creatives doing on social media. I’ve also learned, through a podcast I listen to called Pop Fashion, how much of the world’s clothing ends up in landfills and how much of it doesn't break down easily due to synthetic fibers. I'm motivated to recycle what I can, finding beauty in discarded things. I acquire materials from unconventional places: parties, restaurants, thrift stores, trash cans, office supply stores, and more.

This series has several themes:

  • Mixing accessible, inexpensive or free materials to reference high design, inaccessible fashion and unattainable goals
  • Supermodels/ fashion design as symbols for unattainable, idealistic or unrealistic goals
  • The layering of materials as a symbol for how people package themselves, physically and emotionally, making themselves more acceptable or pleasing to others, yet hiding aspects of themselves
  • The delicate nature of materials. While a person may be able to create an acceptable external persona, the internal still exists and will surface. The exterior is a delicate and unreliable facade.
  • My personal struggle with "packaging" myself physically- how it feels like clothing was not designed with my body shape in mind, how it can actually be really painful. As an act of rebellion, I buy beautiful clothing from thrift stores that I can’t wear and create something beautiful with it anyway.
  • My personal struggle with "packaging" myself emotionally
  • How internal beauty shows itself externally, in surprising and unconventional ways 
Reclined mixed media 11x14" 

Reclined mixed media 11x14" 

Y'all Come, Ya Hear!

Beth MeadowsComment

Please stop in Good Golly Tamale in the Old City (Knoxville) during the month of July to see some recent folk style paintings. The show lasts all month, and I'll be there during First Friday to answer any questions and sell work.

During the month, work is for sale and can be purchased at the counter. Hope you can pop in for a tamale soon!

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Patterns in Nature

Beth MeadowsComment

I'm a magazine page collector. It's where a lot of artwork begins. I tear out pages and file them away, in a very systematic, meticulous way.  

I'm excited to make something inspired by these two different but similar things.  

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Show me the Glamour

Beth MeadowsComment

About a month ago, I started a part-time job working with a high end landscape design company. I'm learning things like how to prune rosebushes in some of the prettiest privately owned properties in Knoxville, TN. 

In other words, I'm in painting inspiration paradise.  

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Let's Begin

Beth MeadowsComment

My work isn't directly about it, but it may be because of it. And in spite of it.

There is a strong connection between pursuing, or not pursuing, a creative life and mental health. 

If you pursue it, it can make you crazy. It most likely will.

If you don't pursue it, it will also make you crazy. I think a lot of people don't know why they feel shut down, depressed. I think one reason is because, a long time ago, they gave up on a creative life. They work and drink to fill that void.

When I say creative life, I don't necessarily mean a professional one. I mean one spent cooking at home, taking a dance class, stringing together beads. It could also mean professionally, but more and more, that makes no difference to me in terms of the necessity of the pursuit of it. I love to see people try. Of course, I love to see someone become good at what they do, but I know they will never become good without starting. So I love to see a person begin.

In my life, I have pursued creativity as a profession, and there have been many stages of darkness involved in this process (I know. Dramatic). I'm happy to know that the initial stage is dead and gone- the one where I spun my wheels almost to death, the one where I almost forgot the reason why I create.

I made it over the wall. It's not a question of will I be creative in my life, but in what capacity.

Today... I am feeling stuck. It feels like a struggle between what I want- to create from deep within my soul (blerg)- or to create professionally. I don't know if they can be the same. That question is plaguing me. 

And there is a great risk of creating from that place within. It's vulnerable and scary. If it doesn't work out, what else is there? (I realize that is a loaded and personal question. Maybe I will unpack that one later...)

Left to my own devices, what I create isn't that good (You should see my sketchbook). It is creating for others that pushes me toward refinement. I feel like I need that give and take. I can't just make art and hide it away. That is not fair to my work. If it needs others to become better, I need to share it.

But in this process of creating for others, I make things really hard for myself. I squash the ideas and methods that come easy to me. I have subconsciously operated under the notion that if it comes naturally, it must not be good. Where did that even come from? It's such a dadgum sad thought.

I've had to admit it recently. I am the stereotype. I am an artist that struggles internally- deeply. Recently there is a steady voice that keeps whispering to make things easier on myself. But pursuing what comes naturally to me feels scarier than not. At least to take that first step. It's going to be a war all the way. And for me, a lot of hours. Hours and hours of work.

This blog post is obviously a step toward it, so there's that. (please, no applause)

Here is what I am thinking through:

What do I want to do?

How will I find the resources to do it?

What is in my heart to share? Am I willing to share it?

To whom will I share it with?

To what extent does it matter what other people want? Can I make artwork and be content if it never sells? If it never sells, in what capacity will I share it? What does that even look like?

Fearing Good

Beth MeadowsComment

I'm trying to get to the good stuff, but why's it being so elusive?

I guess we are always in varying degrees of transition often, but last year felt especially like that. So 2018 is about putting my feet on solid ground. And putting my money where my mouth is. 

I am working to let go of a few things and tie up loose ends because I feel like I can't move forward until those things are off my plate. I do see progress, it's just really damn slow.

One current thing that is sticking for longer than I planned is leaving my position as Director of 17th Street Studios. The plan was to be done at the end of 2017, but there are still things to do, so the new deadline is the end of this month. 

There is actually a LOT to do, so while I am ready to start some new projects, I can't get to them, and it's been frustrating. 

My work schedule is about to get a whole lot more structured beginning this next week, and I am really looking forward to that. Did you know I have four-ish jobs? And I am leaving one today to start a new one this week. I'd like to write about that, too: Leaving places and people on a good note as opposed to hanging on out of... fill in the blank all the reasons anyone sticks with anything too long. I have a lot of experience in the latter.

So I'm trying to be patient right now, and still, slowly like a snail, chip away at some projects that I'm hoping to dive into as soon as possible. 

I worry that my life will always be like this, though. Having too much going on to get to the good stuff. There are so many things out of our control, we could never know what we have to take on from day to day. I don't know how people do it with kids and their unpredictability. How?

Maybe part of it is accepting that this is all a part of life, and to make sure we are taking care of ourselves as much as possible (eat well, sleep well) so that in all the tiny moments I have, I can chip away at the ideas that are nagging at me.

This requires so much discipline, planning, and forethought. I like the idea of this, but I also like spontaneity. And I'm the person that sticks around at the party til everyone is leaving- no matter how much I told myself I'd only stay for an hour or two. I think living this way is also important, because people are the most important. It's such a struggle to find that balance of a solitary creative life and one that is enriched by engagement with others, not just superficial encounters. 

I do feel like this is more so how it will go for a bit... until I have three jobs or less maybe. What would my life be like if I could spend the better part of the day making art? I'm not sure I'd know what to do with myself. The thought it terrifying... which is maybe the cause of all this slow moving of letting go. 

Fear. There you are, you ole Grizzly Bear.