Feminism and modern art were two bold themes on display at the Tees + Jeans Venice gallery during the month of September. Recently, Megan + Jade, a collaborative multimedia project of LA-based artists Jade Gordon and Megan Whitmarsh, were part of the Hammer Museum’s Made in LA 2018 project that strives to highlight artists working throughout Los Angeles.
For Made in LA, they created an imaginary educational institute and retreat center welcoming self discovery and personal transformation featuring concepts like aging, consumerism and time travel. So we invited them to translate their amazing exhibit into wearable, customizable art using premium quality Junk Food tees and Levi’s denim as a canvas.
So we caught up with Megan Whitmarsh in her Highland Park studio to find out more about the prolific duo’s creative process, their inspiration and what they love most about living and working in Los Angeles.
As Megan + Jade, how does your collaborative creative process work?
Jade and I have been working together for the past three to four years. Our collaboration began because we were friends and we wanted to spend time together and it’s hard to find the time when you’re a parent and also a working artist. At the same time, we share a lot of interests but we have different skill sets. Jade comes from a performance and theatre background and I work in textiles but I came out of a fine arts / physical arts program of making a project. So we felt like we had a natural place where we could interact and not step on each other’s toes. And we both had a desire to expand our own work by bringing our work together and creating a sense of play so it would be something we’d enjoy doing.
Initially, we created a short video and we were really happy with it. And that made us want to keep working and we made a few more videos. And then we wanted to do a show together. But we didn’t want to just show the videos that are really specific because everything is handmade. They’re narrative and kinda funny and earnest. We were interested in creating a container or environment for the videos.
How did the Made in LA show at the Hammer Museum come about?
We were asked to be in the Made in LA show at the Hammer and we were excited to take this initial idea of taking this container or imaginary space and developing it. So we conceived of an imaginary institute where you could have these experiences.
What’s the inspiration behind your work?
The inspiration was to create a space that was inviting to the viewer but you’re also part of the installation — you’re entering an imaginary space that you activate. We were given a room so we put in purple carpet and had soft cushions. We had the videos showing but we called it our channel like you’re in a self help center. So everything had this playful idea that you’re in this different place.
As both friends and collaborators, how do you deal with creative conflict?
Whenever we have tension about the work, we always look at it as an opportunity to understand each other and ourselves and so, in a strange way, the work is like therapy. I think it’s valuable to have a working relationship and friendship where you feel like you’re growing as a person.
How does living in LA inspire you and your work?
I love LA and it’s changed a lot and people are seeing it more as a destination and an art city. I like LA because it’s got so many contrasts: the mountains, the desert and the ocean. It’s a weird magical place of catalysis and contrast.
Kayla Shaw is the 31-year-old creative director at Junk Food Clothing. Originally from Ohio, she’s lived in LA for six years after graduating from Kent State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Fashion Design.