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November 27, 2014

Where Did Art Start For You? - Meghan Carich, Visual Artist

In the days leading up to GivingTuesday on December 2, 2014, we are sharing stories from artists in the ArtStarts community. We asked them, "Where did art start for you?" It's a question that asks us to reflect on our own lives in order to see where along our journey our passion for the arts was sparked.

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Read visual artist Meghan Carich's story below and share your own story at

Where did art start for you?

When I was a young girl I always wanted to be an artist. I couldn't draw the pretty pictures of flowers and horses like the other students, I only drew elephants. My lines were never straight so I had thought that this was want was needed to be an artist. I gave up on my dream before it even began. I did not know it was a dream worth dreaming or fighting for.....

As a parent, I have volunteered for many projects in the Surrey School District, as well as White Rock Elementary. Being able to see the wide variety of students art, full of creativity and imagination proudly displayed has always been inspirational to me.

Around 2003 I viewed a wonderful display of masquerade masks. This display WOWED my creative senses.

I could not get the masks out of my head so I went to Mrs. Hanson’s class, and complimented her project, I was surprised to find them made of cardboard from cereal boxes and tape. Mrs, Hanson was kind enough to share the mask pattern with me. The following year I made 12 masks as part of the red, black and white theme I had for my oldest daughters birthday. These were part of the goody bags at the end of the party, they were a huge success.

The following year I created multi-colored masks for my youngest daughters birthday, another huge success. I loved the pattern but I kept thinking that there had to be a way to create a larger mask. Part of my background is in fashion design where I graduated in 1988 from Helen Lefeaux School of Design. I was taught pattern making, not realizing then, how I would use this skill in my future. I started saving all my cereal boxes and set out creating a bigger mask.

Soon enough I had a larger 3-D mask, and the designing ideas flooded my mind. In around 2005 I ran into an old friend of mine, Jim Davidson, who just happened to have an art gallery at that time. I showed him my masks and he asked if I wanted to have them in a showing he was having for other artists. I was dumbfounded, I had never thought I could show my masks as "art" At the showing I had received many wonderful comments including practical ones like "my masks would be worth a lot more if I used a different medium". I had never been trained to work with other mediums so I took the suggestions and started finding other mediums to use with my work.

At this particular time in my life I was have great difficulties in my private life so I turned to my art for emotional healing and relief. I wanted to make yet bigger masks so I found a company that makes a certain weight of cardboard and I could order it in sheets.

I created and designed a larger mask with a neck attached and was thrilled with the results. I had created a unique mask that looked, at least to me, amazing. I started thinking about a business but had no assets so I found a business program for two weeks that was sponsored by the government in 2007.

Always excited to move forward, I embraced the course. While I was there, as it is here, I found very supportive people. One of my fellow students asked me if I had ever considered using leather. I was so dismissive about the idea at first but took the initiative to look up leather masks. My world changed, I was amazed by what I found and set out to find leather to use. Like the cardboard I had to learn about the weight and teach myself how to work with it.  The very first mask full mask I made, Dresden's Flight, a mask about perseverance was accepted at The Surrey Art Gallery event called ARTS 2008.

Since then I have, changed my design and have shown my art from White Rock to Whistler.

This mask is called “The Warrior Within.” Discovering our Warrior Within to forge ahead, and acquire the state of "knowing" through personal power and perseverance matched with fierce determination and desire to over come.

I work with leather professionally now but I still use cardboard with youth, teaching them self-discovery and self-development through mask making with a program I created called The Spirit of Me.

From cardboard to leather, the journey that taught me to be me.

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