Susan Meggs photo

Artist Susan Martin Meggs work hanging in the Janice Hardison Faulkner Gallery on the second floor of Joyner Library at East Carolina University.

A pair of art exhibits from professor emeritus at East Carolina University, Susan Martin Meggs, are scheduled to open in Joyner Library from Oct. 13 to Nov. 30 featuring the artist’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Opening in Joyner’s Janice Hardison Faulkner Gallery is Meggs’ body of artwork entitled “Lightness of Being: A Sense of Place,” which is described in a press release from Joyner Library as a personal and engaging experience and is made up of city and landscapes. A reception will be held on Oct. 14 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. 

“The landscapes demonstrate juxtaposition of iconography between the built environment and natural forms, as well as the effects of light on the perception of form,” the press release said. “A series of oil paintings examines light as cast shadows of natural elements on primarily architectural surfaces.”

The second of Meggs’ two works on display takes form in a black and white print series which represents a personal response to the COVID-19 pandemic from the artist, according to another press release from Joyner Library. Titled “Shell-Shocked Shadows,” Meggs’ second exhibit is composed of sea shells and shadows and will be on display in Joyner Library’s first floor hallway, according to a press release from Joyner Library. 

Events and Programs Coordinator for Joyner Library Charlotte Daniels said Meggs is a landscape artist who works with watercolor, pencil and oil and is heavily influenced by her surroundings. Daniels also said that she hopes those who view “Lightness of Being: A Sense of Place” are able to find their own sense of place through the artwork. 

“I hope that they see with her title being ‘A Sense of Place,’ I hope they can view the exhibit and make a connection with their own sense of place as well,” Daniels said. “That would be one of my goals is that it makes them reflect on their own kind of sense of place.” 

Daniels said she thinks the various exhibits shown in the Faulkner Gallery and the space itself have had an impact on the many students, faculty and staff that enjoy using the gallery as a place to study. 

In reference to Meggs’ response to COVID-19 in “Shell-Shocked Shadows,” Daniels said it’s important to document what society has experienced and to use art as a historical reference.  

“It (Shell-Shocked Shadows) all kind of plays together with our history and our art-history,” Daniels said. “Artwork is definitely a sign of our times and what we’ve gone through.”

For Meggs, “Lightness of Being: A Sense of Place,” began with the view from her SoHo loft in New York City, New York, but it wasn’t until she came to Greenville, North Carolina, that she said she turned her works into finished drawings. 

Before retiring and assuming the emeritus role with ECU, Meggs said she spent some time teaching interior design, which she references as an influence and inspiration for her exhibit. 

“The exhibit does reflect that influence of architecture and interior design and the built environment as contrasting to the natural environment,” Meggs said. “It began in New York when I had my loft in SoHo and I had incredible views of the city so I started drawing scenes out the windows.”

Meggs credits her transition from an urban setting to a more rural environment for the interplay between the architectural and natural forms found in the exhibit. Meggs said through this interplay she displays how her own sense of place changed over time.  

The exhibit’s title isn’t a product of coincidence, Meggs said. She said she wants to challenge viewers to find their own sense of place within the exhibit and thinks the interplay between environment and person will help viewers to be successful in doing so. 

“As designers and as educators it’s important to understand how other individuals see the world and as artists we also need to understand what’s important to us and how we perceive and shape our own world view,” Meggs said.

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