Em-URGE-ing Voices

Your urgent thoughts, urging action

Artists We Love: Megan Smith

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July 6, 2016

Art and the creators behind some of our favorite work have changed as digital media maintains its hold on audiences the world over. Instagram has become the world’s museum, and finding and appreciating art has become easier than ever. This summer, we want to take a minute to appreciate some of our favorite artists who create work that inspires and excites us as reproductive justice advocates, intersectional feminists, and culture agitators. Click here to see more from the Artists We Love series.

Artist Name: Megan Smith

What encouraged you to become an artist?
I come from a creative family. My grandmother is a painter and so from an early age I was around someone who not only was creating work but who also was teaching me about color, perspective, and, less-overtly, about healing and gender. As a child when I went to her apartment she would encourage my sister and me to paint with her. She could never pursue a career as a painter because she was taught that that was not valuable or appropriate for a woman to do. I think in many ways she encourages her children and grandchildren to be creative because that was not something that she could always do. So I was always surrounded by art and from a family who valued art as a form of creative expression.

I am self-taught and have no professional training, and I think because of that it has taken me awhile to label myself as an artist. I have adopted it because other people have used it to describe me, I think. Really my work has always just been about creative ways to talk about the things that are important to me, and continuing to figure out new ways of doing that.

What is one of your favorite pieces that you have created over the years?
One of my recent favorites is a self portrait I did this year in March. I am exploring my relationship with my own gender, and it was really a love letter to myself about that. I think uncovering and redefining one’s gender can be beautiful and I wanted to give myself the freedom and permission to think about it in a joyous way and to not feel pressured or constrained. And I wanted to also honor that everyone should be able to do that. That’s what this piece (above) is about. Gender and joy.

Who are the artists or activists that inspire you?
There are so many! It’s hard to choose. I take a lot of inspiration from contemporary artists who are making waves in social justice spaces, and am continuously moved by Micah Bazant’s work and in particular their recent Trans Life and Liberation project to amplify and honor communities on the front lines of the trans justice movement. I am also following everything that the artists at JustSeeds, CultureStrike, and Dignidad Rebele produce. And I am of course in love with creative folks doing work around abortion access like Heather Ault, Chi Nguyen, and Melissa Madera.

I think more than anyone though the young people working in reproductive and gender justice and feminist spaces are the ones who inspire me the most and who challenge me to think differently and push myself to be a better force in the movement.

Do you have any advice for budding talent out there?
You don’t need to have formal training to be an artist. Just put your ideas into the world. Some will succeed and some will fail but you will learn something regardless. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You have something valuable to share.

See more of Megan’s work at: Repeal Hyde Art Project
Instagram: @repealhyde
Facebook: @RepealHyde
Twitter: @RepealHydeArtPr

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