2020 MFA Thesis Exhibition - Megan Koth

“My work explores the often fraught relationship that women have to beauty rituals, and how they navigate the contradictory spaces of self-care, grooming, and consumption. To enact a ritual that makes one feel ‘in control’ over an ultimately fallible, imperfect body carries a certain catharsis that can be addictive. But the oppressive historical (and ever-present) cruelty of beauty standards and the struggle of women to approximate them can often turn these moments of adornment into self-defeating experiences of ritualized alienation.
 
“I have noticed how the process of painting myself takes me through the same stages of making myself up, with the attendant processes of de-familiarization, focused examination, and ultimately satisfaction (or despair with failure) as the process of doing an extensive beauty ritual. As Lionel Shriver describes the sensation of feeling beautiful, it is a “short-lived, little crack high”—and very similar to my elation when finishing a ‘good’ painting. Painting one’s face in the mirror, and also literally painting one’s face on a canvas, both involve this confrontation with the body, with its objectification in the gaze of another, and myself looking at myself as an object. Afterwards, there is the confused subsequent navigation of an ambivalent, contested space to chase this fulfilling ‘high.’
 
“Examination of oneself in the mirror is entering a liminal space—rife with potential and desire, and sometimes terror. Self-care is to live in the fantasy of control, while acknowledging its ultimate failure, since marginal change is always charged with the desire for and failure to truly achieve dramatic transformation. Through my work, I am crafting a visual language and acknowledgement of this confrontation in the hopes that this material labor will lend further understanding to the abstract experience, and labor, of navigating this liminal and ritualized space as a woman artist and painter of women.”
 
For more information, please visit www.megankoth.com.
 
Click on images to see full view 
 
 
 
Tug (2020)
Oil on canvas
60 x 70 in.
 
Cleansing (2020)
Oil on canvas
65 x 80 in.
 
Picking (installation) (2020)
Oil on canvas
Dimension varies - wall installation 6 x 9 ft.
 
Picking (detail: Trypophobia Nose Strip) (2020)
Oil on canvas
16 x 32 in.
 
Picking (detail: Stye) (2020)
Oil on canvas
22 in. diameter
 
Picking (detail: Blister II) (2020)
Oil on canvas
22 in. diameter
 
Picking (detail: Gland) (2020)
Oil on canvas
40 in. diameter
 
Interface (2020)
Oil on canvas
80 x 4 in.
 
Interface (detail) (2020)
Oil on canvas
80 x 4 in.