Monday, November 10, 2014

Featured Member Interview: Megan Harris

What inspires you to create?
So many things, both tangible and intangible.  Visiting a museum, taking a workshop,  photos taken on trips to India, Italy, Paris, etc.  Colors in flowers, fabrics, books on periods in design i.e. Art Nouveau, Art Deco, the buildings, clothing, jewelry, art, sculpture of these periods.  So many things.

When did you decide to pursue art or did art pursue you?
Being creative has always been a way for me to get lost into a different world other than the one I lived in.   As a child I had paper dolls (is there such a thing anymore?) and I would take white paper and outline their various clothes, dresses, gowns, hats, and then I would create new designs on the garments and color them.  My paper dolls had great wardrobes.  Today they would be seen as fashionistas!  Another thing I used to do is draw skyscrapers.  Don’t know why.  I would draw skylines with many different  building shapes; short, tall, many windows, few windows, strange entrances.  And again I would color them in many different  hues.  My buildings didn’t exist in a black and white world but a child’s world of many colors.  Like Joseph’s coat.  Actual “art” didn’t pursue me, but I it, about 3 years ago.

"Paris Mannequin"
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
An Architect.   I have always been fascinated by buildings;  both commercial buildings and the architecture of homes.  When traveling I always get fixated on the beauty of architecture and truly stop in my tracks to stare.  At the overall design, and more specifically at the entrance doors, the windows (tall and w/many panes of leaded glass, or just old glass with wavy lines).  I love the ornate trims of pediments, cornices, balconies, filigreed iron railing. The colored houses in Mexico and Bermuda were surprises.  I would only be interested in designing residential properties.  I would love to experiment and make each one interesting, beautiful both on the exterior and interior.  No
colored exteriors;  left that to my child’s eyes.

What other jobs have you had which have aided you on your artistic path?
I believe that each of the different careers I’ve had have added something to the ones that followed.  I tend to be verbose so will cut to the chase.  My first love was music, more specifically Opera.  I sang with small opera companies and did audition for the Metropolitan Opera and the City Opera but neither of those panned out.  Sang for many years until at some point I left music.  Enjoying performing I began taking acting lessons w/some prominent teachers.  My career as an actress was extremely fulfilling and I worked mainly in off-Broadway theatres.  In between acting jobs I worked as an extra in films and as an office temp in order to keep up with the inevitable bills that show up each month. 

My 3rd & 4th careers were as an interior designer and textile designer.  I enrolled in Parsons School of Design rather late in life.  So late In fact, that at the beginning of each new course one or two students thought I was the class instructor and would hand me their registration cards!    An assumption on their part since my hair wasn’t pink or blue and I had no metal piercings in evidence.  In the end it all worked out fine and I enjoyed my time at Parsons and then working as a free-lance designer until retirement.  All of these careers are aiding me in some measure as I struggle to produce artwork. 

"Seeking the Light"
At the art supply store, which section do you gravitate to first?
I always go in for something specific.  After that I go up and down the aisles and end up at the check-out  with a cart full of “stuff”.    It happens every time.  My studio is getting smaller and tighter and messier.  

What new technique or art form would you like to learn?  Do you have plans to do so?
I sometimes feel overwhelmed at how much I don’t know, technique wise.  I mainly take workshops or watch DVDs and then try my hand at what I’ve learned.   Besides art techniques,  I’d like to try my hand at making art jewelry at some point.  In particular earrings.  Also, I like Louise Nevelson’s wall wood sculptures and would enjoy doing some small versions. 

"Dynamics of Consciousness"

If you could do anything,  and knew you could not fail, what would you choose
to do?
Introduce kids to the arts,  especially  to  those who wouldn’t have it at their disposal otherwise.  Music, theatre, dance of all kinds, visual arts.   Money being no object I would buy a huge industrial building, set up studios where art could be taught,  rooms for dance and music, an auditorium for plays, dance performances, etc.   Years ago we brought Puccini’s one act comic opera Gianni Schicchi  to public schools in the Bronx and Harlem and you wouldn’t believe how involved the kids got.  There were no Bravos to be heard at the end but a lot of clapping, yelling and happy faces and would you believe, humming as they exited the auditorium.   Also at the North Carolina Museum of Art there are what are called family days and some schools busload kids in.  One of the days the kids were taught to do ATC’s.  Most of them jumped right in and the results were great;  others too shy were encouraged and helped and in the end were so proud of what they had created.

We're looking forward to seeing what you'll create, with the great "stuff" you selected from the art supply store, knowledge gained from lots of workshops, and your own inimitable style!  Thanks for the interview.