Megan Hildebrandt Talks Art, Humor, and Cancer at 25
Being diagnosed with cancer and experiencing chemotherapy at age 25 dramatically changed the priorities and course of my work. Prior to this illness, I made narrative-based images about local history and my neighbors. Now, the stories in the work have emerged directly from my own body and memory, and the history is my own lifespan.
I am making images that express my fear of death. The visions I am putting on paper have been invented to escape personal trauma. They are both truth and complete fantasy.
How do race, class or other sociocultural considerations figure into your work?
A lot of my current work is a direct response to being young and uninsured in the cancer world. I was raised in an upper-middle class neighborhood in a Detroit suburb, and many people living in the place I grew up have now lost huge amounts of money in the recession (my own family included). The tension between an upbringing of plentitude and good insurance, and my young adulthood as an uninsured artist with cancer is definitely a factor in the work.
What role does mischief, humor or subversiveness play in your work?
I previously employed humor pretty consistently in my drawings and performances. I must admit that my current work has taken a more serious note, but I hope that it still comes off as somewhat funny or absurd. Sometimes the only way to fully express a dark time or trauma in our lives is by inserting humorous fantasies or tangents. Funny things and subversion don’t disappear just because you get cancer.
What’s your message to potential art viewers who don’t know much about art?
It is vital to my work that anyone can look at it and take something from it. I am not interested in making art that excludes. I want to embrace anyone and everyone with what I make, and I especially want to appeal to potential art viewers who don’t know much about art. It is my intention to make art about cancer and its treatment for young adults that is real and authentic and odd, and exists outside of the branding of cancer. By the branding of cancer, I mean the pink-ribbon fury and Livestrong obsession that has taken our corporate country by storm.
For more information, visit meganhildebrandt.blogspot.comdocument.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);