Greenville artist Megan Hueble explores the role of women in religious iconography

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Photo by Will Crooks

Since childhood, Megan Hueble has focused on being an artist.

After graduating from the Greenville Fine Arts Center in 2013, she enrolled at Clemson University to study visual art with a concentration in drawing. Her earliest works focused on patterns and grids and incorporated everything from graphite to acrylics. She also briefly experimented with black-and-white photography and embroidery.

“My work is always changing and exploring new things,” she says. “I basically focus on whatever’s inspiring me in the moment, which gives me more artistic freedom.”

Today, Hueble’s focus has shifted to creating mixed-media installations that aim to examine and challenge the historical portrayal of female saints in Catholic iconography, a subject she was inspired to tackle after visiting cathedrals in Italy nearly two years ago.

“Most of the women in these pieces were represented by men who had no idea what the female experience is like,” Hueble says. “They painted simplified versions of these women to represent archetypes like Eve or Madonna. In a lot of religious art, women were represented so that they couldn’t directly engage with viewers, which created this mythos that they were pure with no desire. I’m trying to turn that idea upside down.”

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Some of Hueble’s most recent installations, for instance, include self-portraits that attempt to engage the viewer through eye contact. “It gives my subject independence from the viewer’s gaze and asserts that they’re an actual person,” she says.

But ironically, Hueble is inspired by the icons that she challenges, and she incorporates various religious symbols, including halos and floral wreaths, in her collages to represent and celebrate the legacy of Christianity.

“I’m mostly using these religious symbols as a way to replicate the imagery used in icons,” she says. “But it also comes from a personal place. I was raised Southern Baptist and find it valuable even if I’m no longer orthodox and think these religious institutions need to be questioned. They’ve had a huge impact on art and history.”

Each of Hueble’s works is process-oriented and features multiple forms of media. She usually begins with a self-portrait, snapping a selfie and then replicating it on gridded paper with a graphite pencil. Hueble then cuts a halo and floral wreath from paper and colors them with watercolor, color pencil, highlighter, and ink. She then finally pieces the components together and secures it with staples.

Hueble says some components in her collages are deeply personal and incorporate subtle references to her spirituality. One of her most recent installations actually features self-portraits on pieces of paper that she cut out from a former prayer journal.

Photo by Will Crooks

“It puts me in a very uncomfortable place, but it’s also obscure,” she says. “I’m just really trying to figure out ways that I can visually invite others to ponder and question and converse about these things I want to talk about.”

Hueble, who is one of three Brandon Fellows at the Greenville Center for Creative Arts, is currently displaying and discussing her work on every first Friday of the month at GCCA. She is also experimenting with realism and working to master large portraits under the mentorship of West Greenville artist Mary-Epp Carter.

As for the future, Hueble hopes to use the Brandon Fellowship to make a name for herself in Greenville and further her career goal of art education. She previously interned with the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Mint Museum in Charlotte.

“I’ll never stop making art,” says Hueble. “But there’s nothing better than helping people connect with and learn more about art.”

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