3 Questions with Meghan Vicks
Writer and literary critic Meghan Vicks on collaboration, the creative process, and reading for displeasure.
3 QUESTIONS is series of brief, three-question interviews with PNCA’s visiting artists and lecturers. Each year, PNCA attracts innovative, thoughtful, and creative makers and thinkers who share our belief in the transformative power of creativity. In three short answers to three short questions, these artists offer perspectives on career, motivation, and transformation. When available, we include links to audio recordings, transcripts, slideshows, or video.
The Philip Feldman Gallery + Project Space welcomes Meghan Vicks, co-editor of cult web-journal Gaga Stigmata for a digital performance lecture with co-editor Kate Durbin, facilitated by PNCA alum Larissa Hammond, MFA AC+D ’12. You can also watch a video of Durbin and Vicks’ web-lecture.
“Hold tight those artworks that undo your understanding.”
What advice would you offer current students about to embark on a career in the arts?
Read/watch/listen for displeasure – seek out those books, songs, movies, artworks that challenge your pleasurable and comfortable ways of experiencing and understanding any given piece of art. Know that you approach every piece of art, be it a novel by Beckett or a painting by Remedios Varo or a music video by Lady Gaga, with your own system of understanding art, and your own expectations for what art should and can do. Hold tight those artworks that undo your understanding, that challenge or disregard your expectations, that frustrate you. Expectations will limit you, confine you to certain readings and understandings.
At the same time, don’t overlook what is commonplace – there is art and meaning to be found in the everyday, despite our love for cultivating an aesthetic taste that sneers at what is popular and ordinary.
How do you maintain your creative practice? What keeps you motivated and engaged?
I don’t think it’s important to know what you want to say when you sit down to write; some of the best essays I’ve written were done when I knew I wanted to write about a certain subject, but had no idea what I wanted to say about it. So the act of writing taught me what I had to say about that subject.
Could you describe a moment or experience that profoundly changed the nature of your work?
My thought/writing evolves every time I collaborate with another person. We become monstrous hybrid: I see how my thought/writing influences his or hers, and vice versa – as though we give birth to one another’s thoughts. I also love how I forget who wrote what when I reread a collaborative essay; it’s a good feeling to not feel so possessive over one’s writing, to allow it to be manipulated and guided by others.
MEGHAN VICKS is a literary critic with a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her dissertation, entitled Narratives of Nothing in Twentieth Century Literature, was awarded her department’s prize for the best dissertation, and discovers the concept of nothing as a unique and productive creative force in twentieth-century literature, philosophy, and culture. In addition to co-editing and writing for Gaga Stigmata, she has published articles on Vladimir Nabokov, post-Soviet film, and the contemporary Russian author Victor Pelevin in various peer-reviewed collections. She currently teaches Russian literature and culture courses at CU Boulder.