Friday, September 12, 2008

"I don't want to set the world on fire"

I was reading my old journals again, looking for inspiration for this blog post. I think the only solution for today is to go back in time.

In a previous post, I mentioned that my art created towards the end of my education was painted inside the pages of discarded books, and how much I enjoyed working in this manner. The works were small and on paper, created during pure inspiration and filled with stories and characters.

Today, I found my comment book from my 1999 B.F.A. terminal exhibition from the University of Oregon. Inside on the painted white pages, I let one sentence from the original text remain,
"I don't want to set the world on fire."

But, this is not true, and you know I already have the matches...

What follows is a spontaneous review of my show I found inside my comment book, written by my old friend Hayyim (Howard) Cohen. We worked together side by side in little cubicles selling the newspaper in a tiny downtown office, and became fast friends. He would share his New York Times Arts section with me during breaks.

Megan by Hayyim Cohen

"Combining subversive parody, red (life), black (nothingness) and white (blinding light), duct tape to shut out the noisy excess, upholstery tacks, and the dead bodies of obsolete technical books, Megan Chapman (see your dictionary- "Chapman" means seller) creates lyrical southern "talkin' blues" between the pages of discards (found objects) she collects from the free bins of the Smith Family bookstore in Eugene Oregon.

Providing at her B.F.A. commencement (the beginning of her life as an artist) a comfortable pink sofa with fresh green throw pillows, a little Gene Autry and "A Sunday Kind of Love" musical background for a gathering of "found" people who "read" her books often with whimsical smiling faces.

Megan nails the defunct corpses of old books (now frames for her poems and designs) on the gallery walls with the tacks she loves, this is interspersed with machine blowups of her photographs, which add a nice contrapuntal theme to the shards of books behind the sofa and on the coffee table. Megan is a southern woman and now she has a B.F.A. to nail to the wall when she goes home (tell your Maw,tell your Paw I'm gonna send you back to Arkansas-population 40,002). It is all here in the art, the depths of introspective experience, from one who knows how it all fits together in the package. It's a "found" life for the pack of us, don't you think? Megan has definitely found something...To do and to make a difference, and she does it all with southern hospitality to boot!"

I am so fortunate to have this nugget, and like the art closed up in those old altered books, I thought this needed to be aired out and shared. My friend, Howard did this on his own accord, and I am grateful for his tangents and details; his writing helps me to remember myself at that time, as well as the show and the atmosphere. His words bring back everything about the experience and are even better than a photograph.

Have you ever considered having someone write a piece about your art? Think about asking a friend or fellow artist to write a statement or a review of your work. Perhaps your friends have already left you helpful comments. Have you thought about asking them if you could edit and use them to promote your art? I bet many of you have these nuggets hiding in letters, emails and blogs, just waiting to brushed off and put out there to a larger audience.

Let's set the world on fire...

Take me here often
mixed media on paper
Megan Chapman
Paper paintings only at ArtMaven


  1. Its great to again be reading your weekly outbursts of wisdom and inspiration. Your suggestion in the last paragraph of asking a friend to write a review, etc is a really good one. i know just from casual comments that people make about my work that they see it quite differently to how I do - I think having someone go a step or two further would be really helpful to me. I re-started painting in the past couple of weeks and all is going well. I am determined to push ahead confidently this time and take my work to a larger audience.

    Once again Megan...a big thank you!

  2. Great insights into the value of other's opinions and encouragement. We become isolated as artists, and its easy to forget that our support network is around us all the time if we just take time to talk to them!
    Thanks Megan. x

  3. great idea megan...
    howard's writing is absolutely amazing but i would love to see some of your old images in books he is describing???

  4. Luna1- so glad to hear you are encouraged and working on your painting again. Good luck and thanks as always for reading my "outbursts" : )
    Debs- thanks for your support, and I know you are no stranger to asking friends to write pieces for you and your work!! Keep on keeping on.
    Tangled Sky- If you click on the link above "previous post" you will see 2 of the images from one of my books and samples of the photography that Howard spoke of. I may scan some more of the old book work one day and share it the future.

  5. In my heart there is but ooooone desiiireeee! And that one is youuuuuu! No other will dooooo!

  6. Yes. Yes! Yes! Yes!
    ...I'm just holding back right now ;)

  7. Funny, I don't see your work as "Southern" and don't particularly see you as a "Southern" woman. Did you play up your Southern-ness in Eugene?

  8. Hi Megan,

    While I was fooling around, googling, I noticed that you know Hayyim Cohen, a friend from my grad school days at the U of O (back in the late 80s). Are you still in touch with him? If so, tell him that Marianne says hi.

    Marianne Szlyk

  9. Dear Marianne Szlyk-
    I wish I was in touch with Howard(Hayyim)
    I lost touch with him in the late 90's.
    If you ever come across him, tell him Megan says hi. : )