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Conversations with Meg Lubey

Today we’d like to introduce you to Meg Lubey. 

Hi Meg, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I moved to Cleveland, Ohio from Buffalo, NY where I lived with my three siblings and our parents to attend classes at the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) in 2018. I was really privileged to attend a high school with a funded art program and was even part of an organization at my school called AVPA— Academy of the Visual and Performing Arts. AVPA introduced me to so many wonderful art teachers who aided my creativity and encouraged me to apply to art school. Despite this, fine arts were never really a field I felt I could go in and I found that I was often encouraged to pursue a more design-oriented career. 

When I got to CIA, I was undeclared in my foundation year but had a plan to enter the graphic design program— not necessarily because I wanted to, but because it felt practical and I didn’t really know what else I could do with my interest in art. Through taking foundation courses, exploring different studios, and talking to other students and faculty, I began to understand that passion is what will drive my artistic practice— not whatever major feels ‘practical’ and I found myself applying to the painting program. 

Choosing to study painting was one of the best things I have ever done for myself. While in that department I met really amazing friends, was guided by involved and inspiring faculty, and was highly encouraged to let loose with my practice and explore as much ground as I could cover. Halfway through this program, I became very interested in creative writing as well. When this happened, my faculty asked me to look at the way my writing and painting practice overlap and to find out how I could intertwine these two tracks I was on. This changed my practice for the better, and I began to research the theory behind the work I was making and to ask the question of what art can do for us, whether that be visual art, literature, or music. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The practice of making art is not always exponential. Throughout each year I go through periods where I cannot stop making work— it’s all I do. These times of abundant ideas and inspiration are always balanced with a period of blockage, or a time where I feel I have nothing to make. I found that when I am experiencing the latter, that is where alternate art practices come in. If I can’t think of an image to paint or I’m not inspired to explore a new material, I start leaning into my poetry or I start picking up my guitar again and fiddling around with that. Sometimes you just need a break and I’ve had to learn that that’s okay. 

Another point of conflict in my practice is knowing just how deep to dig. Making artwork or writing prose can be very vulnerable. Throughout the past couple of years, I’ve realized that not everything needs to be translated into a piece of art— some things can just be. It’s been a struggle learning how to address meaningful topics and personal narratives without giving away too much of myself. I really am grateful that I had such a safe space and a supportive group of artists around me to make those mistakes with. The mistakes were necessary to get where I am now and I wouldn’t have wanted to make them anywhere else other than CIA with my fellow painters. I’m happy to say that I feel very aware of vulnerability at this point in my practice and that I know now how to tiptoe the line between honest sincerity and inappropriate oversharing. 

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Like any other painter, my practice started with acrylic and oils and many terrible depictions of still-life scenes. During this basic training, I became quite restless and when I was left to my own devices, I became really drawn to material. Anything that I could get my hands on I would try to incorporate into the traditional medium of oil on canvas— things like fabric, spackling paste, embroidery floss, found objects, and drawing media. The material experimentation that struck a chord with me most was spackling paste. Still today I find myself going back to it and experimenting with its many uses whenever I can. I usually start a painting by laying the canvas down on the floor and covering it with wet spackling paste— smearing it around, building it up, and carving into it to let it dry. Sometimes while it is still wet, I embed found objects or trace phrases into it. After it dries, I paint on top of it. I love spackle’s memory. It holds onto every movement you make and preserves it as it dries. You really can’t escape it. 

Within my practice, I explore time— the way that we understand it and how we use it. As a queer individual who didn’t quite understand themselves until their late teens/early twenties, I find that I have a very complicated relationship with time and memory. Through the theory of ‘queer time’, a term used to reference the way in which queer folk often have to diverge from our cultural understanding of linear time and the expected milestones of western life, I explore the way in which succumbing to strong feelings, both positive and negative, valuing community over the individual, and viewing failure and nostalgia as creative practices combat a capitalist/heteronormative view of time. 

Within my painting practice, I explore these ideas by creating work that revolves around overwhelming moments of nostalgia, grief, and love. By giving time and agency to these feelings, I am attempting to reclaim time and to make it my own. Submerging myself in memory, feeling, and my creative practice is how I honor queer time and escape the fast-paced, linear nature of our culture. 

In January of 2022, I had a chapbook of my poetry, “About Cutting Limes and the Moon Being in Half”, published by Bottlecap Press. With the help of my writing professor, Zach Savich, I completed this collection during the fall of 2021/winter of 2022. It touches on themes similar to that of my painting practices but focuses more on ideas having to do with attempting to embrace changes in identity while trying to preserve and honor your past self. In many ways, it is about grief, acceptance, and family— both found family and blood relatives. 

Currently, it has been three weeks since I graduated from CIA, where I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting with an emphasis in creative writing. I am both giving myself a short break from producing work and am slowly finishing up a project I’ve been working on for this year’s CAN Triennial. My work is taking the form of an installation, a practice I am very interested in exploring more in the future, and will be on display at Zygote Press this July. 

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
I’ve learned what a great privilege it is to be an artist. Unfortunately, creative practices and pursuing passions are not the most attainable thing in this society. I feel very fortunate to be able to have been able to study what I love and to have the time for creative projects, but this is often balanced with part-time jobs and tasks that are not so filled with passion. It’s very upsetting to think that not all people are afforded the time and resources to explore the things they love and care about. It’s gotten me very interested in the accessibility of art and what we can do to introduce art to underprivileged communities and to older generations, specifically older women, who weren’t given the privilege of choosing unconventional paths in life. 

Pricing:

  • “Girl Scout Law” (image 1) -$800.00
  • “Like a ____” (image 1) -$500.00
  • “Untitled (Memento Mori Quilt)” (image 2) -$900.00
  • “Sidewalk: Imagined” (image 3) -$900.00
  • “I Am Feeling Embarrassed Today!” (image 4) -$900.00

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