In anticipation for the upcoming show at Pirate Contemporary Gallery, we had a chance to speak with the artists behind the work: Eden Hall and Megan Bray. Both are graduates from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, and are working as a collaborative team.
COAC: What are your backgrounds as an artists? How long have you been practicing? What kinds of mediums do work with?
Megan: My [practice] started in high school. I took painting my senior year, and I really enjoyed it a lot. I was always one of those kids that kind of had no group, or thing to go into; kind of just a floater. My teacher really pushed me to pursue it as a career after. I went and looked around, I was going to go to MCAD, but it was sooo expensive. So that’s why I came to Denver, to RMCAD, because it was a more contemporary school. It had a lot more options to pursue.
So I did painting, then I took a fibers class, and learned how to weave and sew, and I really liked that. Theresa Clowes is one of my favorite teacher. My senior year I found sculpture and that’s something I really held on to. It’s always my last year that I kind of find what works best for me. I’m still taking classes now, in sculpture, even though I’m graduated. I’d just like to learn as much as possible, and once I know what’s out there for me, direct what works best.
Eden: I guess also high school. I always wanted to do photography. I didn’t take a lot of art classes, I took [art] in middle school, and I was always impressed that my mom could draw really well. For a while I wanted to learn how to draw horses, but I don’t enjoy drawing. I remember one of my first photography classes, it was horrible for one. My teacher in high school told me that I needed to learn how to say it correctly, which is a little discouraging.
We moved to a different town, and I didn’t want to go to the same community college that everyone else went to. So I went to a small community college and kind of hit the ground running, taking photography. I learned how to do film, and the darkroom. Then I started taking other art classes. Another teacher that I had really pushed me to go into fine arts, and I wanted to do fine art photography, and that’s what I originally came to RMCAD for. I wasn’t getting what I wanted out of it. Then I had a class with Amber, and I had a sculpture class right before that, so I started doing sculpture. I’m very hands on, so I really enjoyed working in the darkroom versus working on a computer.
COAC: How did this collaboration begin?
Megan: It just started with us being friends.
Eden: Yeah, I think it just happened naturally. We bounce off of each other really well, and a lot of our work is with our identity and kind of personal exploration, but yet its so different. We struggle with a lot of the same anxieties, so just being friends. it just naturally flows. We still work separate, but yet our pieces are still cohesive.
Megan: The way it actually comes to fruition is different, different methods and how we learned to make art, and just what we are drawn to is different, but the mentality and the way we think about it inside is very similar. We’re not thinking about making art as an object, it’s just an extension of who we are as a person. I think that’s why we thought a collaboration would be better. Being around somebody, and that saying,”not creating in a vacuum”, is so important so you can have somebody to bounce ideas off of, and feel 100% comfortable with.
COAC: What are some similarities or differences between your show now at Pirate, and the one you guys had a Recreative?
Eden: I wouldn’t say there’s much difference in mine. I’m still working under the same mediums.
Megan: I think since I found sculpture… that Recreative show was kind of my first experience in doing that on my own, I had one sculpture class and that was it, and now I’m making this tall sculpture and like, lets do it! Now I think I have a better grasp on my materials. Now this time, there’s more freedom cause I think I know a little bit more of what I’m doing. Now I have my comfort here, and I can explore a little beyond that.
COAC: What are the main materials you find yourself using?
Eden: Pantyhose. I don’t know what it is. And Latex.
Megan: Fabric, I like using fabric a lot because its very feminine. People often associate it as a feminine thing, and a craft thing. It’s like lower value, and I want to turn it into something different, something high end; a sculpture.
COAC: Is Femininity something that’s important to your work?
Eden: Yeah, I would say maybe not off the bat. You can’t tell that they’re pantyhose, and you can’t necessarily see that, unless you’ve see it in person before. I think its just natural because I am a woman. Its going to be like that and get into those issues, but I think it can go hand in hand, male or female.
Megan: For me its definitely a feminine thing. I was always raised sewing, knitting. That was always a feminine thing, and a craft thing, and looked down upon in the art world. Especially when I started getting into it, and people started telling me how it should be done, more this way, or more this way. Still I have always stuck with it, and trying to find the right way to how I see it in my head.
COAC: What was the process for you to get into Pirate?
Megan: The process to get into Pirate was really easy. They’re one of the only artist co-ops still here, I think. They’ve been around since the 80s so they know what they’re doing. It’s just an application process where we put together a document of our artwork and explain stuff about us.
Eden: We were actually approached though.
Megan: Yeah, we were approached to apply as a shared group, since they knew we were just out of college. Since it is artist run, we pay dues, about every quarter, but its going back to make sure we are the sole operators for our own show. We can do whatever we want. There’s nobody telling us anything.
Eden: You definitely have to be ready, cause there’s like a lot more to doing it than just paying money, and showing up to pay your dues.
COAC: If there was a question you wanted to get across to your viewers, what would that be? What do you want to convey to them?
Eden: I personally like when people are uncomfortable with my work, and they come away thinking; not necessarily having one set thing they come away with, because my work can be very personal depending on what you’re internally struggling with. At least I hope its like that. Maybe having an insight or a connection to what you may be feeling or struggling with internally. Or just being weirded out by it would be fine too. It’s a little strange, it’s a little messed up. No shock factor though, I don’t like that stuff, but I don’t mind if people are just like ‘what?’ If they do want to spend more time with it, I’d like them to feel uncomfortable but in a good way. Maybe be more vulnerable.
Megan: For my artwork…I don’t think I want them to feel comfortable. More of something to relate with. A lot of what I have been working on is like from past experiences, and not only past memories, but past materials, like baby yarn, and ribbon, and neon. Stuff that I use to wear when I was a little kids. That’s all from a comfortability now that I’m getting with sculpture. I want them to see that, and see the fun-ness, and playfulness of it, and that I’m experimenting with it and having fun. I’m comfortable with where I’m at, and I have a friend here who supports me and my ideas, and is not trying to telling me what to do or change things; so like just having fun. What ever comes into my mind and I just do it. Even if its scary. Finding that person to be comfortable with.
COAC: How do you manage your studio practice and your studio?
Megan: We both have separate studios at our house, in our garage, both of us. It’s easy, which is has to be. You have to make it easy so you’re not like, ‘fuck, I have to drive like thirty minutes to go to my studio and then warm up to get in this experience.’
Eden: I did have a studio with someone, and I didn’t even get to go at all. I had it for like three months and just did not have the time. My studio practice sucks but I’m trying to get better at it. I’m working two jobs and my other job is like six to seven days a week. I’m trying to get a better studio practice. but I am also a procrastinator, so I work better under stress. You’re trying to pay bills and stay caught up.
Megan: You have to be kind of lenient with yourself because you still aren’t at the place where you want to be at, where you can just wake up every day and that’s just your job. You still have to show up and do other shit so you can afford supplies, and afford to keep your lights on so you can do stuff like that.
One thing that I liked a lot that I’ve started doing is recording the time that I actually show up there and leave. And the amount of time that I worked and what I did. Even if its just some stupid shit, like I just cleaned my studio for the fourth time in a month because I was stressed out. At least I was in there and then I see the list start to get full, and I see what I actually did… you warm up in the flow of things. It’s not like you’re working all the time. Well you are, but not like this, busting your ass staying up six to seven hours in the studio, your whole day. When you do do that, record it and write down the time.
COAC: What kind of other hobbies do you like to enjoy to get yourself outside of the art world, or that are still relevant to your art practice?
Eden: Laying on the floor, no just kidding! The horses help me a lot. I feel more stimulated when I’m working outside with the animals. Definitely now that we’re open. I’m also the manager so I think I’m mentally stimulated that way. I enjoy doing my paperwork, and other certain things that I have to do; my boyfriend thinks I’m crazy. But that gets me into really wanting to make my artwork. Its a weird thing, but then by the time I get home I just want to go to bed.
Megan: For me, taking classes. I always need to be doing or making something. And if I don’t, its just the way I am, I feel like crap if I don’t. I have to always do that, but with class its not as much pressure; it always turns out as a fine product each time. Learning new things and keeping things going. Seriously, I want to do welding, or some serious badass stuff, but that’s a lot more expensive. I like learning new things, and watching youtube videos. That’s helped a lot.
COAC: Do you have any major inspirations in life or in general that influence your work?
Megan: Definitely the teachers that we have had at RMCAD. The teacher that I had in high school, we never really got to see any of his artwork when you’re in a high school setting all the time. We’ve had some really heavy hitters that are teaching at this school, that are actually real artists in Denver. You could list off all of them that are showing in six or seven different galleries here, and not only do you get to see, like the quality of work that you’re trying to achieve, but the way that they work isn’t so standard. They still have weird things that they do. That’s why I’m so inspired to try all sort of different kinds of art and combine them into one. Like painting, sculpture, fibers, all that stuff, its all so interesting I don’t want to miss out on it.
COAC: Would you consider yourself a multidisciplinary artists?
Megan: For sure, yeah. Especially in this day and age, to make some money, you want to fit in where you can. The more you know the more opportunities you have.
Eden: I want to say that I’m definitely multidisciplinary. I still work in photography, and get back to working with slides. I love paint. Black paint, I don’t know why. I’ve never considered myself a painter, but I love paint. I like working with different materials, especially found objects too.
Megan: If I want somebody to take something away from this, is to like embrace that, the weird odd things you find interesting because you never know it might turn into a great idea later on.
Combustion//Harmony’s opening reception is Friday, May 24 6-10pm, on view through June 9.
Location: Pirate Contemporary Art Gallery 7130 W 16th Ave, Lakewood, CO 80214.