And She Was, a solo exhibition by Dallas-based artist Margaret Meehan, is a selection of work originally created for her installation Decoration Day at Atpace San Antonio in 2014. The exhibition focuses on the hidden histories of female soldiers during the American Civil War, and features a mixture of sculpture, photography and sound.
It is a little known fact that 400-1000 women disguised themselves as men and fought for both sides of the Civil War. Some were discovered and sent home while some stayed on the battlefield and worked as nurses. Others fought as men with distinction and came out as women only when safely living again at home. Many more were killed and buried on the battlefield, like Sarah Rosetta Wakeman (also known as Pvt. Lyons Wakeman), before the discovery of their true gender.
Meehan’s intention with this body of work is to highlight the legacy of these forgotten and invisible women and to compare their stories with those of contemporary queer and female American enlisted. She connects the stories of nineteenth century female soldiers who passed as men in order to serve with contemporary military members who are now allowed to fight in combat but still have to endure a number of social roadblocks placed before them.
Originally commissioned and produced by Artpace San Antonio, Photo by Mark Menjivar
Now and Then (diptych). 2014.
Custom tintypes, wallpaper, velvet ribbon, vintage plaster frames, square cut nails, paint.
15H” x 12W” x 1.5D” each
Margaret Meehan has always been interested in the body. Not necessarily in the way it works, but more in how it has been perceived throughout history. She is curious about the intersections of myths, teratology, and medical anomalies which give basis to an anxiety about the body and the act of living. Her work focuses on women and individuals who have been depicted as monsters. Drawing from film, music and popular culture, but also family folklore and traditional crafts. Pulling from the past as well as the present, her work is predicated on the treatment of others, visually referencing patterns of behavior in multiple parts of society at multiple times.
Awards and residencies include the Nasher Sculpture Center Microgrant (2015), Artpace, San Antonio, TX (2014), The Lighthouse Works Fellowship, Fishers Island, NY (2013), Bemis Center, Omaha, NE (2009), the Dozier Travel Grant, Dallas Museum of Art, TX (2008). She has shown at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, The Dallas Museum of Art, Soil Gallery in Seattle, Flowers Gallery in London, David Shelton Gallery in Houston, and Conduit Gallery in Dallas, among others.