Elizabeth Meggs: Found & Lost at Sweet Lorraine Gallery

Featured Artist

Installation view, photo courtesy of Lucas Zhao

Elizabeth Meggs’ work in Found & Lost includes prints, posters, fabric design, and clocks. The exhibit explores the discoveries and losses many have experienced in the world in recent years, from profound themes such as hope, time, or love, to mundane items such as umbrellas. Through this exhibition and opening event Elizabeth Meggs expresses a gratitude for life, and a catalyst for connecting with friends and building community through August, after recovering from being hit by a car and sustaining a head injury in late April of 2022.

Tell me about the work in the show and please share what is behind the HOPE wall poster you designed (featured in Print Magazine’s “The Daily Heller” by the legendary Steve Heller).

Life became so heartbreaking, terrifying, and isolating in the early days of the pandemic in 2020. My artistic process shifted away from making large oil paintings because I was locked down in a small apartment in New York City, away from my painting studio, with death raging right outside the door. My creative work evolved suddenly and dramatically after a decade of non-representational painting (http://www.meggspaintings.com) into an exploration of universally understood symbols, and making smaller work such as clocks, monoprints on paper, fabric patterns, and vector-based graphics, which are now in this exhibit. The dire circumstances of the zeitgeist amplified critical aspects of humanity, such as love, mental health, community, or humor, so the clarity of universally understood symbols made sense to me as something I wanted to explore.

The “Care Squares” design that raised funds to support 3,000 meals via Feeding America, as well as a full wall-sized version of colorful “Art Hearts” graphics will be in the exhibit. Fabric inspired by legendary English hill figure known as the Cerne Abbas Giant, a mixed-media cheeseburger self-portrait (that I made in response to being hit by a car and sustaining a head injury), and a broken umbrella linocut installation further amplify the titular “Found & Lost” theme by making nods to history, identity, and humor.

The work in the exhibit “Found & Lost” acknowledges that it is possible to have found much while facing tremendous loss, and vice versa. The title of the exhibit adds context and ambiguity to a piece such as “Art Hearts.” Are they a reflection of love found or lost, or both? I’m happy to say that I found an umbrella, after so many years of losing umbrella after umbrella.

In late 2020, I was delighted to be one of about 150 artists and designers contributing to a community Hope Poster Wall in Richmond, Virginia. In my design, the negative spaces in the letterforms of the word “HOPE” are colorful and vibrant, and spatially no longer negative, expressing that something negative might often be turned positive, and therein lies hope. The colorful forms reside at the top of the poster above a grey field, communicating that hope itself rises above all that is grey or hopeless.

Like most people, I’ve had some harrowing and very sad experiences, recently being hit by a car that ran a red light. I believe I already deeply understood that all of our days are numbered because of experiencing 9/11 and the untimely deaths of multiple people I love, but I’d never really physically FELT that understanding the way I did when the car slammed into me and I sustained a serious head injury from which I am still recovering. I think designing the 26 clocks that are in the exhibit has been a meditation on time in many directions, including the time limits of our own lives, and the intervals of infinity via form and color. I wrote more about designing time here.

While desiring to avoid morbidity and lead a joyful and exuberant life, I also explicitly understand that death can come at any second. This type of understanding should help to provide easy clarity for an artist and person, distinctive from the world of commercial galleries, sales, or reviews. What really matters?

Elizabeth Meggs, WHAT TIME IS IT (Art Clocks), 2021-22, clocks, 82″ by 100″ installation (clocks are 10″ each), photo courtesy of Lucas Zhao

“FOUND & LOST”, a solo exhibition of work by Elizabeth Meggs from August 6 – 31, 2022 Sweet Lorraine Gallery, 183 Lorraine St., 3rd Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11231. Opening: August 13, from 6 to 9 pm, with an outdoor reception on the roof deck (*rain date is August 20 from 6 to 9 pm).