Megan Vun Wong is a philosophical painter who holds a Masters Degree in Fine Arts from York University and is the recipient of a number of Canadian Council Arts Grants. As an undergraduate she was awarded the Gissur Eliasson Scholarship and the Isbister Scholarship from the University of Manitoba. Megan has created abstract expressionistic paintings for the past 25 years and continually develops her own unique, innovative style which has been described as “where Jackson Pollock left off.” The work of Vun Wong is dynamic, daring and distinctive. Her glorious use of colour and vibrant energy are her signatures though her more quiet, contemplative pieces are also stirring.
Megan’s art signifies the ineluctability of change since all things, everywhere, are in flux and ever-evolving. She uses enamel paint gesturally applied to plexi panels which have been cut and shaped, which are then assembled together creating an art form that is original, exciting and representative of ultra-contemporary art. Also of relevance is her work where enamel paint has dripped and dried, becoming encrusted on objects resting on her studio floor. Salvaging these ‘gems of time;. Example: the wooden piece/ found in SPIRIT STICKS #1 have been incorporated in her enamel canvases alluding to the constant transformation perpetually taking place on all things. More importantly is the notion of the interconnectedness and intermingling that prevails as we react, respond, negotiate these external changes that encroach upon us. Dictated by these forces, our reality is formed.
Recently, Megan spoke to the Examiner about her experiences working as an artist and her hopes for the future:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): How and when did you decide to become an artist?
Megan Vun Wong (M.V.W.): I was out of high school for about seven years and I decided to go back to school to take university courses for a “career.” I was always interested in Art, ever since I was a little girl. I remember how my family lived on very modest means, yet my mother spent so much money on good solid crayons and good drawing paper for me that utterly surprised me. That was the only time I found her to be “extravagant” in my whole life. I always marvelled at art that looked so real. The flowers on birthday cards, the snow on the trees at Christmas, the animals on nature cards….And so I had preconceived ideas about art school – I thought it would teach me how to draw nature and how to make everything look “real.” It’s ironic that as early as the first year in university I gravitated toward the abstract, the expressive in lieu of the representational. My favourite artists, even today, is Wassily Kandinsky and my favourite Canadian painter has to be Jack Shadbolt.
M.V.W.: How would you describe your work and what inspires it?
M.V.W.: I pride myself as a philosophical painter who works in the abstract-expressionistic style. I believe that my life itself, whatever surrounds me, is what inspires the depth and breadth of my work. It’s how I respond to the chorus of the everyday – the constellation of circumstance that impinges upon my soul – that I feel the need to communicate. I realize that what and how I feel is universally felt and understood. And so I strive for my concerns to resonate.
M.M.: How did you go about getting into galleries and/or public showcases?
M.V.W.: With much determination and drive. I armed myself with slides of my work, the favoured format of my day, and applied to the artist-run galleries, the public galleries at first. Learning how to write artist statements – through experience- became extremely helpful in gaining entrance to these spaces; true also of writing grants. With successful grants came successful entry. But good, quality work had to accompany these literary aspects. Later, I applied at certain commercial galleries that catered to the abstract. It’s important to have your work in a gallery that promotes your kind of work. Anyways, I am an independent artist now. There are pros and cons on both sides of the coin – to be associated with a gallery or to go at it on your own. I’ve found that with hard work and consistent persistence, going alone has its advantages.
M.M.: Do you have a favorite piece? If so, which one and why?
M.V.W.: I have a few that really speak to me; actually “sing” to me. Two are of my earlier work: they are reflective, contemplative pieces. Very sparse but I find them to be very powerful. The other one is more recent – I love the painting, the composition itself is stirring to me, the exertion of the brush onto the canvas- and then the added rubber gloves – elevates the work to be ultra-modern, with meaning. It’s entitled: MOMENTS OF TIME.
M.M.: What are your mediums of choice?
M.V.W.: I have always worked in acrylic paints; I have found them to respond to my gestural brushstrokes the way I want. However, about ten years ago I began to use enamel paint and I was wowed by its vibrancy, its glossiness, its dynamism, its sexy, seductive quality. It seemed to have a mind of its own as it left its vessel and meandered across the canvas. At first I used the enamel paint just as accents on my acrylic canvasses. I enjoyed them so much I thought entire canvasses of enamel would be glorious! And so it became to be. Now I use enamel paint on plexiglass – a wonderful discovery as I layer the plexi pieces (that have been painted and cut into varying shapes) and by doing so, the lines, shapes and shadows from one piece are reflected onto the other and attribute to the transparent character of the plexiglass.
M.M.: Are there any mediums that you haven’t worked with yet but hope to soon?
M.V.W.: I have always been intrigued by welding and the work that can be created with this process. I may one day take a course on welding but then I ask myself where can I pursue this medium after the course? Hmmmm…
M.M.: How did you develop your unique style?
M.V.W.: I must say that it’s always been there…I see my present work with the layering of the plexiglass as a natural progression of the work I did in art school many, many years ago when I used masonite pieces, a process which I have not pursued for nearly 20 years… Then one day, about 5 years ago, it seemed to be the perfect medium to convey my concerns..The process of cutting out shapes and then layering them to create new forms, new structures that speak on new and different levels, have been my preferred form of communication – even on paper – where collages and the process of layering, of bringing different pieces of different things together to form something new and meaningful. This mindset of collecting and cohering is an integral part of the work and is essential to what the work addresses.
M.M.: To date, what has been the most rewarding experience involving your artwork and/or being an artist?
M.V.W.: The most rewarding experience for me is to have people enjoy my work; and who say, “Yeah, I get that!” It is extremely gratifying. Then to know that people who usually respond only to representational work and not so much abstract work, to become interested and then even so much as to collect one of my pieces…well, that’s the best!
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become an artist?
M.V.W.: You must be prepared for a long and winding road; there will be times of struggle and times of self-doubt. But if you truly believe in your art and what your art articulates in the visual language and you pursue it with passion and perseverance, then maybe you might find some morsel of satisfaction and personal victory. Surround yourself with people who support you and your work. You will need them as you confront the naysayers. Acknowledge that being an artist is not for the faint-of-heart. Then go forward with optimism and positivity. Your art will speak to others and this will be your lasting reward.
M.M.: Are there any upcoming projects and/or events that you would like to mention?
M.V.W.: I will be exhibiting in a group show in Paris this September. In 2014 I was approached by an art gallery in New York which offered me a 3-week solo show in Manhattan. This Artifact Gallery is next to the New York landmark Tenement Museum and a short walk from the New Museum – the most dynamic museum of contemporary art in New York City. My show opens in November, 2017. I am excited of course and just a bit nervous. To exhibit on a world-class stage has anxiety written all over it. I am waiting for the anxiety to hit me- and it will; I’m sure. Right now, I am planning what kind of work to show and looking forward to creating it all. I’ll be starting ‘yesterday’.
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To learn more about Megan Vun Wong, visit her official website.