Meredith Olinger, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of October 2018, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Meredith some questions about her work and studio practice:
Q: Tell us about your background.
I’m from Memphis, TN. I recently obtained my M.F.A. from Memphis College of Art. I am a mixed media artist. For the past two years I have been designing my own wallpaper, creating it both digitally and by hand, and using that to collage large scale installation pieces. I also work in printmaking, painting, and textiles.
Q: How would you describe your work?
My work is very layered, both in physicality and content. I’m very interested in the intersections of art and design, painting and installation, digital and handmade. My work blurs these lines. Aesthetically, I’m looking for something bombastic and overwhelming. I’m inspired by advertising, billboards, interiors and social media.
Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
All of my wallpapers are of my own design. I create them digitally and have them printed by Spoonflower, or I create them by hand, using painting, printmaking, drawing, etc. These are then layered onto a surface and then I rip away at them. I often collage these pieces back on, working until the piece feels right. I also photograph my work while it is in process, make a wallpaper pattern out of that, and then collage it into the work.
Q: What are your goals for this residency?
During this residency, I am focusing solely on painting. My background is in painting, but I have been so focused on collage for the past few years that working with oil has been very challenging for me. My goal this month is to get re-acquainted with the medium.
Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
I have so many favorite artists! El Anatsui, Amy Sillman, Mark Bradford, and Nick Cave are just a few of my favorites. But recently, I’ve been very interested in Elliot Hundley’s work. Though it’s very different from mine, the way he works in layers is similar to my own process. I also love how dense his work is, and that is something I strive for in my own work.
Q: What advice would you give to other artists?
I’ve had so many great professors over the years, and they have all graciously given me so much wisdom. But one professor in particular once told me to, “trust the process.” Simple really, but I repeat it to myself a lot in the studio. It’s so easy to get bogged down in your work. Art making is hard and you have good days and bad days. You have to remember that it’s all part of the process. The struggle is important for making your best work.
Q: Do you collect artwork? Tell us about your collection.
I do collect artwork! My collection is small, but has some really great pieces by artists I love. I own a few pieces from some of my cohorts from graduate school: Katherine Dean, Joseph Mosely, and Mary Ruth Pruitt. I also own a piece of one of my professors, Beth Edwards, a fantastic Memphis painter. I also own some antique Chinese peasant paintings that I bought for a song because I don’t think their owner knew how amazing they were! I try to pick up prints when I can, and am looking to add a Chuck Johnson and a Greely Myatt (two local Memphis artists) to my collection in the near future.
Q: What’s next for you?
I recently started showing my work with Binder Projects, an online gallery, so I am excited to see how that relationship develops. I’ll be teaching in the Fashion Design Certificate Program at Memphis College of Art in the Spring, and I have some workshops in mixed media and printmaking coming up. As for my work, I’m excited to see how my process grows and changes this month.