Art by Meredith Mcghan

A Sampling of ‘Surrealendipity’

I’ve been making art since childhood, but I began making collages regularly as a creative outlet when I was having a dry spell as a writer during the economic downturn of 2008. Over the next few years, collage art became a form of working meditation for me, something I would turn to for fun, creative expression and stress relief. Found images drive the composition of my artwork more than any preconceived idea, very different from writing. I call this “surrealendipity.” Along the way, intent and meaning emerge, and I call that emergence “conscious archetype retrieval.” It’s similar to being immersed in a dream and understanding its significance after waking up. One of the things I love about this process and its results are that those meanings can vary with the observer. Just because I’m the artist does not mean my interpretation is the only one that counts. You may see something very different than I do in my work.

“Cliff’s Gnosis” (2015) — Most of my artwork depict people experiencing things, but in this one, it’s the observer of the artwork who is the experiencer. A cliff that resembles hands clasped in prayer reaches toward a spiral galaxy, while an empty cabin perches on a ledge below. You’re headed toward it, for a retreat perhaps. (And yes, the title is a pun on CliffsNotes. Whether there are shortcuts to enlightenment is up for debate.)
“How Long Has It Been Like This?” (2009) — A woman contemplates urban decay, wondering when it began, and why it has not been fixed. I use images of ruins like this in a lot of my work. I think it comes from growing up in the Midwest, surrounded by blight, with fears of apocalypse and collapse always casting a shadow. Art is a way of coping with and expressing this anxiety.
“I Am the Cosmos” (2014) — The title is taken from a breakup song by Chris Bell of the band Big Star. There’s a slight smile on the face of the silhouette. Perhaps they really have achieved that feeling of oneness with the universe, even if doing so can’t bring back their lost loved one.
“Lament of Icarus” (2021) — When I first made this collage, I thought of it as depicting a fallen angel, but I later settled on Icarus as the subject, an Icarus who survived to look down broken with regret on all he has lost. The theme that emerged was that the only way to recover from hubris is to suffer its consequences.
“Worlds Apart” (2021) — She has a porcelain mask that has been torn away to expose her tears. He has a door in his head that’s been opened to expose a nuclear explosion, though his expression is calm. They’re staring a little past each other, over a cosmic rift, under a red rose on ice. At the bottom of the image is a star system resembling a vesica piscis, a mathematical construct often used to symbolize union. Despite their current distance, they remain linked.
“Young Astronomer” (2019) — A young boy looks out with a dreamy expression at an unearthly landscape, while in the distance a shadowy figure pauses below a mysterious portal. Perhaps they’re astronomy students visiting that strange place from a parallel universe.
“A Stranger Gift” (2014) — In a dreamlike landscape, a woman looks up with anticipation as a green floating polyhedron offers her a purple brain. This composition was largely color-driven, with a focus on greens, and the composition emerged based on that. I like to think it shows an eagerness for knowledge and new experiences.
“A Stranger Gift” (2014) — In a dreamlike landscape, a woman looks up with anticipation as a green floating polyhedron offers her a purple brain. This composition was largely color-driven, with a focus on greens, and the composition emerged based on that. I like to think it shows an eagerness for knowledge and new experiences.
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