Sometimes artists can speak quite well for themselves, with an Artist’s Statement of such depth and detail that it can be difficult to make any comment on the work in question without seeming at best redundant and at worst meaningless. Megan Bickel is a contemporary Renaissance woman, a multidisciplinary artist who writes and thinks with precision and clarity so that her very thoughtful words are arguably insightful enough to challenge the need for further observation. Of her work in her upcoming exhibit at Quappi Projects, Bickel writes on allusion and illusion:
“Being primarily literary, an allusion can be commonly articulated as an expression designed to call a subject to mind without mentioning it explicitly. It can appear as an indirect or passing reference. The author is allowed freedom in the expectation that the reader is aware of the reference made in the “allusion;" but as an object of literature, it provides safety or security for the reader in requesting the use of the readers’ imagination. Thus, the readers are limited to their own experience or consumption— they are safe to play in deception or truth, because they know the origin of the falsity provided by an allusion.
An illusion —of course—is a trick. Perhaps it appears as camouflage, or perhaps it appears in the process of convincing a viewer that they are witnessing something. It can also appear in the cultivating of a false belief, but however it appears the one in control of the creation of an illusion is the maker. An illusion can be as benign as an illusionistic still life, or as malignant as propaganda. No matter the moral positioning, the illusion is an object of convincing.”
You can read the full statement on her website, but Bickel appropriately places a burden of interpretative responsibility on the viewer before she concludes:
“Though my approach to media differs from object to object, I would generalize that this body of work utilizes haptic curiosity as a means with which to encourage visual, ethical, or empathic critique of contemporary media images. This skill of inviting curiosity into our daily consumption of images may become an important skill as we approach a period in history where we have to understand and decode how our images may be deceiving us— and just as quickly as we learn to create those deceptions.”
All of which seems to pose the question of how much trust we can place in Bickel’s images. Her work does not accommodate passivity, and we might go further and question the worth of any art that doesn’t provoke us to think differently.
Bickel is the embodiment of the restlessness of contemporary artists who are proactive in creating opportunities for themselves and others. In 2016 she co-created Five-Dots, a visual arts blog that covers the Midwest Region, and in 2017 she founded houseguest Gallery in Louisville, an example of the growing trend for non-traditional exhibition spaces. She most recently showed work in PLAY THAT ONE BACK, JOHNNY, Megan Bickel and Louis A. Edwards, Erie Art Gallery. Erie, Pennsylvania.
Bickel is an MFA candidate at the University of Louisville and will be participating in the Louisville Visual Art/ Hite Art Institute Open Studio Weekend November 2 and 3. She also is included in the Open Studio Weekend Juried Exhibit opening at U of L’s Cressman Center on November 1, 6-8pm.
Her new one-person show, We Are inside the Fire, runs November 15 through December 20 at Quappi Projects, 827 West Market Street in the NuLu neighborhood.
Education: University of Louisville, Master of Fine Arts Candidate, 2021
Art Academy of Cincinnati, BFA, Painting, Magna Cum Laude, 2012.
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Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2019 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved. In addition to his work at the LVA, Keith is also the Managing Editor of a website, Arts-Louisville.com, which covers local visual arts, theatre, and music in Louisville.