Boekel Scientific Teams Up With Detroit Based Artist
Image Credits: PD Rearick
Megan Heeres is an artist located in Michigan who reclaimed a used Boekel Scientific Rocker to create an amazing sculpture, Rhythm of Return. We were given the opportunity to sit down and talk with Megan about her story, her art, and Rhythm of Return.
Megan was raised in a creative, hard-working Michigan household where she was encouraged to solve problems with her hands. Her parents, both of whom were school-teachers, took Megan and her siblings on adventures to art museums, science centers, national parks, beaches, and more. This upbringing was formative in her artistic practice.
While Megan was always creative, she did not follow the typical path toward becoming an artist and did not take any studio art classes in high school or college. It was when she moved to Portland in her early 20s that Megan figured out she wanted to pursue a serious art practice. She soon found a studio space, began taking classes at the Oregon College of Art and Craft, and started to have small exhibitions in coffee shops and wine bars in an effort to build a portfolio for applying to grad school.
It was at this point that Megan returned to Michigan to pursue a Master's of Fine Art at Cranbrook Academy of Art. Cranbrook is a unique, self-led studio-based program that taught Megan how to be an artist in the real world. It was also here that she began to connect with other inspiring makers and thinkers who have become a lasting part of her artistic community.
Currently, Megan lives in the Detroit area, which has also proved to be formative to her studio practice. In her own words, Detroit is a "deeply creative, hands-on, and visceral place to live and work". The art community in Detroit is generous, collaborative, and open while also becoming a place for her to find space, materials, and time to make. While Detroit brings challenges, Megan belives the challenges influence creative problem solving.
The Goal Of Megan's Art
"Human beings and their productions are not separate from Nature; they are just as much, or as little, “natural” as everything else." - Steven Shaviro
Megan creates art as a visual translation of her ongoing research into our shifting and complex notions around “nature.” She creates bright, kinetic sculptures and installations, and collaborative workshops that encompass native and invasive plants, human-made discards, landscapes in repair, and a shifting climate that propose a new kind of nature.
Megan celebrates misunderstood places like fields of invasive plants in the landscape that tell a story of imbalance and of abundance; or the swamp, dark and unknown, that is also one of the most biodiverse places on earth. She understands these places as teachers, helping us to listen, to learn, and to be better stewards. Her work, in collaboration with community, explores new definitions and expectations for our environment. She seeks to bring hope, possibility, joy, and a sense of humor to our shifting relationship with the natural world.
Image Credits: PD Rearick
The Inspiration For Rhythm of Return
Rhythm of Return allows the viewer to experience paper pulp viscerally, watching it rock back and forth and almost spill over onto the floor. The green pulp is created from cast-off papers from holiday announcements. The once cheery, inviting solicitations are rendered into an unknowable sludge that threatens to stain the pristine white pedestal on which it rests. The rhythm of the pulp is uneven and mechanical, an unsettling contrast to how watery substances, like waves and rivers, typically move in nature. However, the unending, jerky cycle of the pulp allows it to remain in liquid form so that the viewer can experience an important facet of the papermaking process within the gallery. Without constant agitation, the pulp would dry and become a paper object in the shape of the box in which it is contained. This work brings the process to life that approximates, but doesn’t quite accomplish “nature.”
Megan wants the viewer to feel a simultaneous sense of joy and unease with Rhythm of Return. For her, this mimics the wonder she has often felt in the outdoors in which she is experiencing something potentially fragile or dangerous or rare. Encountering the raw materiality of a thing can be a vulnerable happening that can help encourage our sense of awe.
Why Boekel's Rocker II?
It was meant to be. For years, Megan had been wanting to share paper pulp in its raw form with an audience. It’s part of the papermaking process that few people get to experience. Megan was so thrilled to find Boekel’s Rocker II on the shelf at the Spartan Surplus Center at Michigan State University. She had been looking for something to agitate pulp and keep it in suspension and this machine was made for that.
Megan also loved the seeming simplicity of the mechanism and the design of the Rocker II. In her own words, "It feels like something that people can understand. With my work, I am not trying to trick or fool anyone, but rather include them in the process. Boekel’s Rocker II helped me to achieve this."
Megan's Upcoming Projects
Megan is currently working on a site-specific exhibition called Tending Time in the Core City neighborhood in Detroit. For the last 6 months, she has been researching the history and the proposed future of the place and building an installation and outdoor sculpture from materials, natural and human-made, that she has been harvesting from the site.
Along with the exhibition that will open in September, there will be a series of programs for different audiences from a dance performance, papermaking workshops, nature walks, and community dinners.
Boekel is thrilled to see our equipment find a new purpose, supporting our environmental sustainability initiatives. We are looking forward to working together with Megan more in the future.