Megan Conley – Artist Statement
For the past ten years, I have been compelled to make work that explores issues of self-identity, born from my experiences dealing with facial and dental deformity and the ensuing correction process that has lasted ten years of my life—and is still ongoing. Currently, my mouth, chin, jaw, and gums have twenty-five plates and screws that will keep everything intact for the rest of my life.
From 2016-18, I was an Artist in Residence with the Calgary Board of Education at Ted Harrison Middle School. Working with youth has encouraged me to re-examine my practice and be more receptive to trauma that is not my own.
From this experience, I began my most recent “Trauma Series, Stage 1” at the Luminous Bodies residency at Artscape Gibraltar Point on Toronto Island. I requested all eighteen artists, including facilitator, Teresa Ascencao, to hold a pose that translated a past physical or emotional trauma. All artists remained silent as I three-dimensionally scanned their bodies and faces, which revealed their vulnerability. Participants chose not to share the context of their trauma. Due to this, any narrative was contained only within the pose. Next, I selectively altered and manipulated portions of the figure and face to emphasize aspects of their possible physical or emotional trauma. Collecting these representations of trauma is an archive that continues to develop and grow with my career during each residency I attend.
Trauma Series, Stage 2, a collaboration with DJD has allowed me to continue to examine the face and body as a site of vulnerable expression through movement and touch while ultimately starting a conversation about individual struggle, mental health and collective healing. I consider my Trauma Series to be ongoing as I actively expand its reach by collaborating with various individuals, communities, arts organizations and collectives within Calgary.