Today we’d like to introduce you to Megan Koth.
Megan, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I started out painting and drawing from a very young age. My Mom especially encouraged me to be creative, and by the age of 8 or 9, I started carrying a sketchbook around. I would try to draw things that I saw around me- I was particularly fond of bowls of fruit! I think that getting started on the basics so early in life helped me to excel in the arts later on.
It wasn’t until I was in high school that I started to seriously think about art as a career. I was lucky to get a scholarship to a summer art program, where I met some local artists who would become valuable mentors- painters Judy Bruce, Marty Gibson, and Pat Cain. They went on to invite me into their studios and introduced me to abstract painting, printmaking, and other artists I’d never heard of. My knowing them helped me to see that I could build a life for myself around art. In a way, they also gave me “permission” to pursue art as a career.
I went on to get my BFA in painting from ASU, where I was able to work with even more awesome artists- like Henry Schoebel, Forrest Solis, and John O’buck. They were very supportive but also pushed me to make work that was more intentional and sophisticated. They got me to think more critically about my work and why I made it, which is crucial for an artist to learn to do. I was in the honors program, so I was able to have a solo show my senior year. Having to fill up a whole gallery with just my work was a real challenge, but it felt so affirming to finally accomplish! Luckily, I had a semi-private honors studio that gave me critical space to make so much work. I really enjoyed undergrad, and I grew so much from the experience.
Since graduating in 2014, I’ve still been painting and showing in various venues in the Phoenix area, as well as in Scottsdale in Art One Gallery. I was fortunate to be introduced to the owner, Kraig Foote, by my friend Pat Cain (who’s also represented by Art One) and he’s really helped me to build a clientele for my work. Kraig is so passionate about supporting the arts, especially for young people, and I feel so lucky to know him. I also work in a few galleries as my “day jobs.” Overall, I feel happy to have connected with the community we have here. For the most part, everyone is very supportive of one another. And there’s so much talent in the Phoenix area that I’m still frequently finding new local artists to admire!
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I mostly make oil paintings, but I also dabble in other mediums, like cyanotypes (a vintage type of photography) and mixed media. My work for the last couple of years has all swirled around the concept of examining beauty rituals. I started out making these big, bright paintings of lipsticks when I was in undergrad, and gradually I’ve moved into self-portraiture now. I’ve always been fascinated by the ugliness that is often the bedfellow of performed beauty: the smeared lipstick, pilling foundation, and/or tear-streaked mascara. Our culture is so beauty and perfection-obsessed that I have plenty of fodder for my work!
My most recent painting series is called “Mask.” It’s a series of self-portraits of me wearing a variety of skin care masks that are all the rage right now. Social media has made it so easy for people, especially women, to obsess over makeup and skincare, all to achieve a level of perfection that’s unattainable. I think the fact that the lighting in these paintings is so dramatic and sort of baroque, while featuring such a “trendy” product, has made these paintings particularly appealing to viewers. At the end of the day, I hope that my paintings are aesthetically pleasing, but that they also be vulnerable and revealing of these insecurities and anxieties that I think we all struggle with, at some level.
Have things improved for artists? What should cities do to empower artists?
I think in may ways things have become both more difficult and easier for artists. Social media has made it so much easier for artists to build a following on their own, and even sell their work directly to collectors, all without a gallery. Also because of social media, you can get recognized for your work even if you don’t live in a major arts city. Someone random person in Sweden might see your work on Instagram and contact you to buy it- that’s pretty crazy!
But, at the same time, social media has also made everything more competitive. Because some random person in Sweden can follow your art on social media, that same person could also follow anyone else in the world. You’re no longer just “competing” with other artists in your area anymore, but essentially every artist in the world. Of course, there are still some collectors and galleries that favor local artists, but I think it’s overall harder to get collector’s attention just because their pool of potential avenues for buying art has expanded so much. I see a lot of galleries and artists struggling with this new paradigm.
I think one of the most crucial things that cities can do to support artists is offer more affordable housing. Mesa is doing this with their new Art space lofts, which is awesome, as it’s not only affordable, but functions as an artist community as well. Making necessities like rent more affordable for artists really helps, as many of us are self-employed and therefore have less stable income than others. Another thing cities could do is offer more full-time arts jobs through enriching and expanding their arts programs.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I always have work at Art One Gallery in Scottsdale, and I pop up in shows at various galleries/events throughout the Phoenix area. To keep up with these, it’s best for people to follow me on Instagram or Facebook, as I make announcements of upcoming shows. The best way for people to support my work is to buy it, but just following me and giving me some likes on social media is cool too!
- Website: http://www.megankoth.com/
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/megakoth/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/megan.koth.5
- Other: https://ello.co/megankoth