WheelHouse Art has recently signed a number of new artists this summer. In order to get to know them a little better, we sent them a few questions to answer. This week we're kicking off this series with Megan Bickel.
1. Outside of art, what hobbies do you have, or how do you like to spend your free time?
I've powerlifted for a couple of years now. However, it's a hobby that definitely ebbs and flows with my schedule. I really enjoy walking my dogs, making a mess in my garden, riding my bike, spending time with my partner and friends, running slowly, hiking, and sleeping.
2. What do you like to listen to while working in your studio?
I used to listen to the news or hip hop or punk music, usually, but I've lately found it kind of overstimulating and have enjoyed just having Louisville's 90.5 WUOL Classical station on in the background. I have also really enjoyed listening to the Machine Ethics podcast. . . whilst I'm collecting digital photos.
3. Do you have any pets?
I've got three dogs and a cat, but a stray cat that I refer to as Bandit has recently decided that I am to feed and pet her every day, as well as worry about her when the weather is poor; so I suppose I have two cats.
4. What is your favorite book?
I'm not sure if I have a favorite, but I think that the author that stands out to me is Loren Eiseley. He was an anthropologist, philosopher, nature and science writer, and educator who wrote what I guess would be quasi-science fiction. His prose and adoration of natural mysteries (though now pleasurably out of date) has greatly impacted my aesthetics. I'd highly suggest reading The Unexpected Universe (1964, I think).
5. Do you have a personal motto, mantra, or philosophy on life?
So, I have this copy of Space Settlements by Fred Scharmen that I bought at, I think, the gift shop at the Chicago Cultural Center maybe 8 years ago. It's a fascinating book; it goes into the 'Summer Studies' that were conducted at the NASA Ames Research Center in the 1970's, which was a well funded effort meant to find and design architecture for advanced space colonization. It resulted in not a whole lot other than some gorgeous paintings by Rick Guidice and Don Davis for the book titled the Whole Earth Catalogue and some really terrible ideas about being inclined to take all of outer space as ours. All of that is beside the point because there is a quote by Anne Herbert that reads: "The sky starts at your feet. Think how brave you are to walk around." And I wouldn't say it's a motto, but I just think it's so profoundly simple and lovely, and I have it everywhere now.
6. What is one skill would you like to master?
I wish I was better at learning languages. It's something I've always struggled with. I've been trying to learn Korean for three years now, and I'm simply terrible.
7. What is something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t tried yet?
Wake up in France.
8. What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?
Sleater Kinney at Forecastle in 2006 or Adrianne Lenker at Bluebird in Bloomington, IN
9. If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?
could I do both?
10. What is the best advice someone has ever given you?
My father always said, "work should be play with a purpose," and I took that literally.
Above: MEGAN BICKEL, The Dueling Hamilton Name Checks Fell Onto the Senate Floor. Acrylic on lycra with 5 tone holographic inkjet print , 40 3/4 x 50 3/4 inches
"I make objects, paintings, and videos that abstract or oscillate between announcing and concealing meaning. The resulting work cultivates unserious fields of imagery and installations that interrogate what it means to be visually critical in the 2020s and the future. I do this to playfully mimic, mock, and question the American confrontation between the public and the intertwined spectacle of journalism, political science, advertising, and propaganda. This is done by using the visual language (mark-making) associated with Post-Digital Painting and Casualism, two painterly modalities that question(ed) the ethically fraught relationships between military technologies (specifically digital and screen technologies) and Paintings’ relationship to the economy." -- Megan Bickell
Above: Megan Bickel, My Bad, There's a Whole in the Floor.Acrylic on lycra with 5 tone holographic inkjet print, 24 3/4 x 26 3/4 inches
Megan Bickel is an artist, writer, and educator currently working out of Louisville, Kentucky. Her work considers and utilizes various approaches and technologies such as painting, data manipulation, digital collage, database reconfiguration, and poetry. Bickel’s work has been exhibited at the Speed Art Museum (Louisville, KY), University of Chicago Logan Center (Chicago, IL), LADIES ROOM LA (Los Angeles, California), KMAC Museum (Louisville, KY), Georgetown College (Georgetown, KY), QUAPPI Projects (Louisville, KY), Art Academy of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Oh), and MADS Mixed Reality Gallery (Milan, Italy).
She is the founder and organizer of houseguest gallery (since 2018) and has had fiction and arts criticism published nationally. She is a regular contributor to Ruckus, NEWCITY, and Sixty-Inches from Center. She is an adjunct professor at the University of Louisville, Bellarmine, and Indiana University Southeast where she teaches Painting, Video Production, and Web Design. Bickel recently received her Master of Arts in Digital Studies in Language, Culture, and History at the University of Chicago. Her thesis research assessed how Google Vision API and other related APIs would impact the fate of climate reporting due to their current labeling production design. She is currently working on expanding this data set and expanding the research into a book with coauthor Joseph Solis.
She received her MFA from the University of Louisville with Honors in 2021.
Further reading on Megan Bickel