We had the good fortune of connecting with Meredith Connelly and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Meredith, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I would say that an artistic or creative path actually pursued me from the inside out. My creative vision was everpresent and evergrowing, though it was bound by fear of vulnerability, failure, and the age-old stereotype that artists cannot support themselves. For many years, I made quietly and experimented with materials. At age sixteen I had made my first metal sculpture, and by seventeen I had dropped out of high school and moved to Paris, where I frequented museums with my sketchbook in tow. However, it was not until I hit a pivotal fork in the road my junior year of college, that I fully accepted that I was an artist and nothing else I pursued would come close to the true and inherent call I have to create and connect through art. To me, this is more than a career, it’s self-acceptance, following my intuition, and striving to sharpen my skills and experience over time.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I draw inspiration from science, nature, and technology. It is my goal to conceptualize works that act as bridges between these complex and interwoven disciplines while putting emphasis on the importance of connectivity through an authentic interactive and multi-sensory experience. Working with lighting, papers, and industrial materials for over a decade, I recently bridged into large-scale temporary and permanent public works and have the humble opportunity to create full-time…and then some.
It was a long and developmentally necessary road to arrive at where I am in my career to date. As I mentioned, a high school dropout and a single mom that worked three jobs to put myself through college. I cleaned toilets, changed diapers, and created art. After graduating I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina to be closer to my now-husband and for more access to art opportunities. Shortly after moving, I was hired by The Mint Museum as a Guest Services Associate. I sold museum entrance tickets, with the hope of getting my foot in the door. After working at the desk for a year and a half, I was hired as an entry-level position on the advancement and marketing team and promoted within the organization a year and a half later. Through all of this, I was showing my work, creating, and funding my own installation sculptures. I was also gaining critical experience in project management, budgeting, PR, operations, and working on a creative team. This road prepared me for my first public project “Lights” at the U.S. National Whitewater center which consisted of 15 immersive installations along a 1/2 mile trail. in 2019. The challenges I faced early in life built my character. I was not afraid of failing, because it was not an option. Over time, I have become kinder to myself regarding points of growth and that I will always be learning.
I am most excited that I have the opportunity to create full-time with an emphasis on accessible work and to support emerging creators on my team through experience, work, mentorships, and to bring art to as many people as I possibly can. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is to put people before art, and with deep care, the work will follow. I have also learned that hard work, perseverance, and growth are ongoing processes. If I am getting too comfortable in my work, then I am not striving to push my practice to its limits. Healthy fear is a sign of growth in my world.
I would like the world to know that I humbly and genuinely care about humanity, the power of art as a mechanism for healing and connection, and that artists are a critical part of the community. We are contributing to the cultural threads of our time, while also investing back into the economy and communities as creatives and business owners.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am not local to Denver but have fond memories of visiting my aunts and cousins that live in the area. I always make a stop at the DAM and take my time wandering the museum, I enjoy the botanical gardens in the summer, find a good crystal shop off the beaten path, a few galleries, and a top-notch Ramen spot. Honestly, my favorite pastime was swinging in the hammock near the cherry tree in my Aunt Mary’s backyard or walking to find the perfect heirloom tomato and crusty bread for a summer lunch with her.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate my Shoutout to the Art Professors at UNC Wilmington who helped me find my voice and supported my academic and creative path. I worked three jobs as a single mom to put myself through college, and they were positive voices in my life that helped me grow, push my artistic exploration, and remain curious with focus.
Dr. Amy Kirsche recommended a book that changed my life and helped me get out of an abusive relationship and opened my eyes to another layer of Art History in a captivating way. Andi Steele was my mentor in regards to my installation work by teaching me to push through the discomfort of design and providing me with opportunities to intern under her. This time also served as a space for uplifting conversations that helped me continue pursuing my work as a female artist while being a mom. Aaron Wilcox asked me questions on a regular basis that challenged my plotted-out “plan” to go straight to graduate school. In hindsight, Aaron’s questions were actually guidance that led me to put a hold on rushing to pursue and sharpen my studio practice.
It’s now been over a decade and I still have not rushed to graduate school. I have been too busy happily creating public art as a full-time artist, with a team of emerging creatives by my side. It’s still on my bucket list.
Facebook: Art By Meredith Connelly
Other: Co-founder of Ash & Ochre www.ashandochrehome.com Insta @ash_and_ochre_home
Compliments of the U.S. National Whitewater Center