I’m not very good at depicting cloth(ing) so I find it easier to just draw everyone naked. And when one is trying to convey the human experience it seems a logical and expeditious solution to incorporate the human form. I like to throw in some allegory and metaphor in the mix to help drive the narrative. I have no idea what that all means but I think that’s what I do.
Music chosen by Ed
What’s your background?
Well, it certainly didn’t start out with art. I came from an ‘art poor’ family where the only thing that hung on our walls was a picture calendar from the local pharmacy or hardware store. However, I did have a brief introduction to photography when I was about eleven. An uncle of mine set up a makeshift darkroom on top of his bathtub and showed me how to developed film. We made a few prints, too. I really thought it was magic. Unfortunately, he moved across country shortly after and, as they say, that was that. But it made a lasting impression on me because later in my teens, I came across Popular Photography and Life magazines, and I was captivated by the images of a world unknown to me. I thought how “neat” it would be to be a photographer. That idea stayed in the recesses of my mind until after I fulfilled my military obligation, hitchhiked cross county and worked some odd jobs.
It took me a while until I finally figured out that photography was what I wanted to do for a career. The problem was I didn’t have a clue on how to start. With my interest peaked, a friend and I built a darkroom in his mother’s basement. We had no cameras nor knew what we were doing. So we gathered up what we thought was needed. I borrowed a Brownie camera from another friend and went out on the streets of my neighborhood in Chicago to see if I could take pictures like I had seen in the magazines. And, to my surprise, I could.
It took me a couple of years before I got a job as an assistant at architectural photography firm schlepping gear. Wanting to learn more I attended a semester at the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara California and then moved on to a catalog house where I honed my technical skills. My last employed job was with a photographer who worked with the well known advertising agencies of the time. He was drunk much of the time and I wound up doing the shoots for him, so I decided to start my own shop and solicited big and small ad agencies for a chance to work with them. And for the next thirty five plus years I photographed everything from abecedarians to zygodactyls. It was all good.
Does your artwork come from that background?
Certainly my sensibilities of composition and how to fit objects into a given space comes from my photography background. It’s also where I learned I could be creative and not fear trying something new, something I hadn’t done before. Every assignment was a different challenge set within different parameters. I think what I enjoyed was the challenge to satisfy the illustrative needs of the projects – to communicate verbal or abstract ideas in visual form. And then there were sets and environments to be built, things to be fabricated and illusions to be created. All sometimes had to be done in a single day.
When I first started out, budgets were very tight and I couldn’t afford an assistant, a stylist or model makers. Out of necessity, I took on those tasks myself and began to build models, sculpt, draw and paint whatever was needed to create a successful photograph. It was inevitable that I began to learn and develop some skills in those disciplines and to dabble in personal artworks other than photography.
What are you trying to say with your work?
Good question. I think there’s a lot of personal philosophy and context behind my art, probably a lot more than any of the works convey.
The work is about my perspective on the mundane, the sacred and the profane which are my “go to” subjects. It’s where my existential tendencies hit the metaphysical road, so to speak. It’s my commentary about church and state, human interaction, the psychological, spiritual and the sexual experience. I try and throw in a little provocation, good design or just plain old fashion giggles into the piece and hope that someone “gets” it. I’m trying to say, look beyond the superficiality of the image and see what is there, go past the obvious, and look into the periphery where most of the world exists but is to often ignored.
What made you choose the medium you work with?
I haven’t made a choice yet and probably never will. I pretty much use what ever is at hand to do the work. Sometimes, the work itself might dictate what medium to use. So I’m a mixed media guy.
Do you work in a studio?
At the moment, yes, I do. Right now I’m in a one car garage. It’s a fair space that could be improved upon with shelving, storage and new flooring. Oh, and a skylight or two would be nice.
What is the one thing in your studio you just could not be without?
Clutter, if it wasn’t in disarray I wouldn’t be able to find anything.
Medea at the Hummingbird Crossing by Ed Meredith
Who are your biggest influences?
This could be lengthy because I am a photographer, painter and sculptor so I’ll touch a bit on each. And I don’t know if they influenced my art as much as had an impact on me becoming an artist.
In my personal (street) photography work, which was my first foray into the visual arts in 1959, Cartier-Bresson would be a major influence for his “Decisive Moment”.
Another major influence on my work would be Edward Steichen. This is not so much for his photography but for his curation and assemblage of the 1955 exhibit, The Family of Man, which visually woke me to the role that photography plays in documenting the human experience and its universality. I paid full price for the softcover book catalog in 1957 – it was a dollar.
I think having come into contact with The Family of Man and Henri Cartier-Bresson about the same time, was like a kid having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich – the two were a perfect fit, That was my first genuine thought about becoming a photographer.
In fine art, I’m probably influenced by too many to mention, although many of them after the fact. But Marc Chagall would certainly be on the list. I was attracted to his poetic figurative work and his assimilation and use of different styles in his paintings. I liked his playfulness and lyrical emotional aesthetic. His palette too, can’t forget that. I say mix in a little Francis Bacon and some Bosch and I think you might be looking at one of mine… (laughs) or so I’ve been told.
When It comes to sculpture, I guess the first name to pop into my head would be Giacometti and the surrealism of his early works, and of course his later fragile figures that express the Existential thought of his day. It was another serendipitous moment when I came across Giacometti that I happened be reading Sartre’s No Exit and two of Jean Genet’s plays The Blacks and The Balcony. It was perfect timing.
Another thing about Giacometti’s early sculptures that drew me in was that some of them looked like toys and I wanted to physically interact with them. And when i saw his pared and whittled down figures saying everything they could possibly say, that’s when i thought of becoming a sculptor.
I still haven’t figured out what I want to be.
What is your favourite piece of work by yourself?
No favorite because they all have something different to offer me at different times. But if if I have to pick one right now, it would be Do Not Deny The Senses For Even They Are Enlightenment. The reason would be that it’s paying it’s own freight, it was entered into an international competition, “The Worlds Greatest Erotic Art of Today”. Yeah I know that sounds pretentious, but hey, I didn’t name it. The piece won first place in the mixed media category with a cash prize and a five major city tour. So that was good, a double win.. it was also published in “The World’s Greatest Erotic Art of Today” book series volume 5, making it a triple win. The piece was inspired by the classic poem Hsin Hsin Ming by Seng-T’san the Third Patriarch of Zen. It was quite a surprise win considering the theme of the competition was erotic art. It hangs in my wife’s woman-cave. But there’s also my abstracted diptych of woman and man as Equals that I favor, it hangs in our living room. This is too hard, can I pick another?
How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?
If there is no deadline for an exhibition or competition, I pay no attention of the time it take to complete a piece. It just takes as long as it takes. I kind of get lost in what I’m working on and the world is timeless. I also procrastinate a fair amount and that makes it a bit difficult estimate start to finish.
How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away?
It’s finished when the work tells me to stop and I sign my name. I usually can walk away, although on some occasions I have the urge to go back and fuss and mess it up a bit. I guess some lessons are hard to learn. I do however have one in the studio titled The Last Eve that I could work on for years and maybe never finish it.
The Last Eve by Ed Meredith
What project are you working on now?
I have a couple of things started. One is sculptural piece in maquette form at the moment and the other is a painting series I’m doodling with. The sculpture is figurative and depicts four nude bodies in a four high circus performers balancing act that is somewhat suggestive if not blatantly sexual in appearance. it will be titled Cirque du Sutra.
The other is a painting series and is something new for me. I’d like to make nine to twelve portraits of fictional characters in a corresponding background fitted for their personality with a short story to accompany them.
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Understand the fundamentals of composition and then do whatever the hell you want – as long as it works and feels right.
Music chosen by Ed
What was the first piece of art you sold?
Outside of a commissioned faux neon light and lead sculptural piece I did for a client’s conference room, when I was still working as a photographer, it would have be when my wife Lynne talked me into putting some some small 3X4 inch unframed colored pencil and oil pastel drawings in an small photo album and participate in a guerrilla style street art gallery in New York City. I set up on a park bench with the album on a small end table so people could pick it up and thumb through the album. I sold nine that day. Thank you, sweetie.
My process to making art has always been one of discovery, equal parts of creativity and reaction to the objects and materials at hand.
Do you find it hard to navigate the art world?
I’m pretty much removed from the art world these days and don’t have much desire to join in at the moment. And as far as online goes, I have yet to offered anything up for sale online, so I really haven’t anything to say about that experience.
What are you personally doing to advance your work career?
As I said I’m not involved in the commercial aspect of art at the moment. I do however try to participate in exhibitions when I can. There are two that I show in regularly, one for eleven years in as row, both are celebrations of the human form although one show tries to pass itself off as more erotic than the other.
My involvement with these two shows started at an outdoor art show in a nudist resort. I had seen an ad for the Second Annual Art Show at a nudist resort that was just outside of Orlando Florida, “another theme park” I chuckled to myself. I thought what hoot that could be, so I entered, got accepted and set up my art-fair tent along with about twenty-five other artist. Just as I thought, it was a real hoot. Naked people of all sorts walking in and out of my booth bending over to look at the art. I hung a few of them low. I wish I could had taken photos but that would have been a bit rude.
I won the cash prize for best in show. I received a blue ribbon that I cherish because of what it says, ”Cedar Lake Nudist Resort, Best in Show”. When I read that I laughed and thought, yep… this is the kind of recognition every young man would love to have… I wore it proudly.
Ok Ed, I have to ask for the interview… You wore it…where?
Haha… I think that’s best left to the imagination, lets just say on a most suitable place under the circumstances. And please don’t ask how it was attached.
Music chosen by Ed
How do you price your work and why do you price it that way?
I don’t have a clue, I just seem to wing it or to price comparably to others in a show or exhibition, unless I think they are too low. I try not to be too greedy.
Do you use social networking in your day to day life?
No I have never been on any of the social media sites other than Fine Art America and I’m there primarily for the forum and the entertainment.
Is there anything that really annoys you about the art world?
I guess that would be pretentiousness, just listen to me… lol. The art community and some artist need to get over themselves. We aren’t all that special.
What advice would you give new artists?
Just do it, just make art even if you don’t know what you’re doing. Forget about perfection, ain’t no such thing. Give some thought about content and context. Be fearless, even if you are not sure, try it, make it because anything worth doing is worth doing even half-assed…
Have you got hobbies?
Sure, writing poetry, sometimes short stories, snorkeling, hiking and canoeing which I haven’t done much of recently.
Where are you based?
Just outside of Tampa Florida in a nicely wooded area.
Is there anything else you would like to tell the reader?
I’m not usually this talkative or longwinded… lol
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I live in Manchester, UK and try to promote other artists and writers when I can.I'm so pleased you found our community and I hope to chat to you soon!!Please comment on my posts if you like them 🙂