Oakland-based textile artist Meghan Shimek creates whimsical, cloudlike wall hangings reminiscent of fuzzy Dr. Seuss characters or bubbly Yoshi's Story landscapes.
Her pieces have graced the walls of Anthropologie, the Line Hotel, and numerous galleries including current exhibitions at Foggy Notion and The Podolls in SF, Homestead Apothecary in Oakland, and Poketo and Individual Medley in LA. Though her work appears lighthearted, behind the soft sculptures is far more depth.
"One of the things I like to explore is dealing with uncomfortable feelings. My work is so soft and touchable, yet you shouldn't touch it because it is so delicate," says Shimek. "I am also working on a project about what things we are bound to through our lives and choices and why we choose the things we want to become bound to, through obligation, familiarity, love, pain, and why we let go of some things but hold onto others."
It was during a period of tumultuous change in her life that Shimek discovered roving, a long and narrow bundle of fiber that produces a fuzzy texture. From there, weaving became a full time profession.
"From the first weaving class I took I knew something was different. Weaving made sense to me in a way nothing else ever had; it was like the world opened up to me. I began with a rigid heddle weaving class and then studied Navajo weaving, floor loom weaving, and tapestry weaving before finding my own art using roving."
Shimek explains that her art is a healing experience. The work she started off making was deeply personal and created with no intention of being shared. She never expected her art to develop so many meaningful connections to others.
"Weaving is a very solitary experience, I love that I can be alone, but I can teach and share my skills. I love that it brings me peace and is meditative and relaxing. I apply wabi sabi principles to my practice: there aren't mistakes."
Shimek's home comes together with just as much intention. As a live/work loft, she moved in with a big, open canvas. She shares the space with her five-year-old son, so the space is segmented into smaller "rooms" to give some privacy for them both. She takes the front half of the loft where she does all her work and sleeps, tucked away in her cozy tufts of colorful work and materials. The middle area is their shared space with a kitchen, dining area and living room. The upstairs loft belongs to her son, which feels like an enchanted dream looking out over wooly works hanging around the house.
"Although it is usually a mess, it feels cozy and warm. I don't get stressed seeing unfinished work first thing when I wake up, it just feels like an invitation to get out of bed and make something. I also find that living with my work allows me to feel it as more of a living thing...sometimes it needs rest, sometimes it needs immediate attention."