We had the good fortune of connecting with Meg Hitchcock and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Meg, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Pursuing a career in the arts was never a choice, it was the outcome of my immersion in creativity. I’ve been making art all my life, have studied it extensively and spend endless hours at it, so it seemed natural to make a living at it. When I was younger, I tried the nine-to-five thing, where I worked as a graphic designer or picture framer or whatever I could manage. I owned two framing businesses, which was great, but it was still a grind, a means to an end, which was to be in my studio working on my art. When I’m in my studio, I feel connected to something greater than myself. I’m not fussing or worrying over anything; I’m just in the moment, engaged in the process of creating. And when I sell my artwork, it feels like the whole creative process has come full circle, that my work is appreciated, and that sustains me so that I can continue with my career as an artist.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My creativity is an open-ended activity, and the way in which I express myself is continually evolving. My current series is inspired by the tradition of illuminated manuscript painting. This is a style of illustrating, or “illuminating”, passages from the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, and so forth. But instead of illuminating a long-established, patriarchal religion, I illuminate the state of awareness. I use my own visual language that includes drawing, painting, sewing, and burning paper. I cut letters from sacred texts and rearrange the letters, creating verses that point toward a state of oneness. I usually incorporate Buddhist writings, but I also illuminate poetry and, on occasion, my own writings. My “Illuminated Manuscripts” are at once serious and playful, drawing upon traditional practices with a contemporary spin. I’ve worked hard over the years to find my voice as an artist, and equally hard to make a living at it. I’ve been able to work in my studio full-time for the last five years, and it’s made a huge difference. I’m able to create a lot of work, take more chances in the studio, and then find galleries to sell the finished work. But by far the most important aspect of my art practice, and that which brings me the most joy, is the amount of time I spend working in my studio. I’m so grateful that I can get up every morning and go into my studio to work without distraction.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d take her to the Lower East Side, where we’d wander through art galleries. Then we’d go to a few galleries in Chinatown, making our way over to Tribeca. I’d buy her lunch, then we’d go to the Whitney, and wander up the High Line, where we’d exit at 23rd Street and have a pint at the new Hawthorn Bar (formerly the Half King). Then we’d take the crosstown 23rd to midtown and walk to Grand Central Station, and take the train back home. (I live an hour north, in Peekskill). The next day we’d recover. The following day I’d drive with her to see the DIA collection in Beacon, and the Italian art museum, Magazzino. If the weather cooperated, I’d take her to Storm King, the outdoor sculpture garden near Cornwall. If she wasn’t interested in art, I’m not sure what we’d do. It would likely be a short visit.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There have been many people along the way who have inadvertently helped me move to the next level of my career. A boss who died and left his frame shop to me, another boss who refused to give me a promotion, forcing me to go out on my own and find my way, an artist who wouldn’t hire me to be her assistant because she said I was too advanced – these people helped me to move past my fears and become financially independent. This has helped me to carve out the time to take a deep dive into my creative process and take risks with my work.
All photos by Zac Cam Studio: www.zac-cam.com