Meghna Misson’s MIXED: An emerging artist’s first solo exhibition in Cafe Capello

Meghna Misson’s MIXED: An emerging artist’s first solo exhibition in Cafe Capello

Install view of “MIXED“, 2021, Satellite Gallery, Reno

Meghna Misson is an aspiring young artist who’s lived most of her life in California before settling in Reno.  Having graduated high school in 2019, she is about to finish up her final term with Truckee Meadows Community College, and plans to transfer to the University of Nevada, Reno to double major in graphic design and fine arts.  As young artists, we are told that graphic design is the most practical or lucrative career in art.  I assured her that some of the most successful studio artists have never been to art school, and how I don’t believe that art education should ever be taken too seriously.  As I designed last year’s Young Blood exhibition zine, I found Meghna’s illustration to be one of the strongest entries.  It was also her first time showing her work outside of a high school classroom.  I felt honored to talk with her about her first-ever solo exhibition at the Holland Project’s Satellite Gallery in Cafe Capello, which will stay up until June 1st.

Before this, the only interviews Meghna has received are when she won two art competitions in 5th and 7th grade, granting her two live-television-appearances.  Her mother says she started drawing at a very early age.  More specifically she remembers those scenes from Spongebob Squarepants drawn all over the sides of her dresser.  Meghna’s parents and older brother moved from India to California only a few years before she was born, so I was surprised to find that her use of bright colors and mandala formations aren’t necessarily drawn from Indian culture.  Instead, Meghna draws inspiration from 1950’s greaser subculture; from which was born some of America’s most notorious Hollywood icons such as Marlon Brando, James Dean, and Marilyn Monroe.  Leather, denim, lipstick, and big hair are prominent features of Meghna’s illustrations.  Utilizing a range of mediums including markers, pencils, paints and found objects, Meghna takes a whimsical, psychedelic approach to create vivid dreamscapes that seem to echo 1960’s and 70’s hippie counterculture.  Almost like the plot of The Outsiders being sung by the Beatles. 

Her characters express a range of emotions; solemn, angry, or content with their partners, environments, or animal companions. Meghna fills the gaps in her drawings with stories and quips she invents herself; she tells me she appreciates the way words can make up the entire composition of a newspaper or page of a book. These writings allow her scenes to read like illustrated pages of a fairy-tale for adults with an appreciation for the roots of American pop-culture.  Her cast of angsty highschool rebels are adorned with real metal jewelry sewn into the canvas, or a nimbus made of cocktail-sword toothpicks.  Her strategic use of mixed media resembles those picture-riddles coined by the popular I Spy books, and could easily go unnoticed against her detailed hand.  Meghna says she enjoys experimentation and is excited to grow more sculptural in the future.

Meghna surprised me most when she told me that these works were created for an AP Drawing course in her Junior year of high school.  While her peers chose a single medium, Meghna chose mixed media.  Her class schedule also required her to finish each piece in the span of one week.  Earning my own BA in studio art, I couldn’t help but encourage Meghna how rare it is to see a young artist with such a developed style.  I also mentioned the advantages of being largely self-taught.  Stendhal syndrome is a term coined by an Italian psychiatrist in 1989, and refers to the notion that art can be so overwhelming that it causes physical illness.  I think this is what I and countless others have felt after years of art education, only less physical illness and more contempt for the art world in general.  It’s exciting to see young artists stay true to themselves in developing such organic art practices.

Please go give Meghna’s work the attention it deserves, and stay tuned as I continue to encourage her to create detailed prints for sale.
Contributor –
Otis Heimer

Otis Heimer received a BA in studio art from Principia College, Illinois in 2018; where he also served as teaching assistant and assistant curator for the James K. Schmidt Gallery the following year.  Moving back to Reno in 2019, he is currently on track to receive his master’s degree in museum and gallery management from Western Colorado University this spring.  You can follow his drawings on Instagram @hella.friggin