With ‘Vitality,’ Megan Wade’s art captivates viewers


Vitality, now open to the public in the BMU, shows off artist Megan Wade’s work. Wade says that art “evokes something in our senses.” Photo credit: Natalie Hanson

Tall and slender, dressed in all black, she stands in the back of the gallery, smiling humbly. Guests begin trickling through the doors slowly—she greets many of them as they enter.

People move around the room, observing the sizable collection of abstract, colorful oil paintings. Megan Wade, a senior at Chico State, created these paintings.

Using the fluidity of oil paint on a canvas, Wade lets her mind run—finding inspiration inwardly. Her art is a visual expression of instinct and emotion, which evokes something different in everyone.

The provocation of emotion is evident on the faces of her spectators. One man, standing inordinately close to a large canvas, stares straight into the piece as if he’s inspecting diamonds for authenticity.

Other people form groups, chatting about the paintings. They gesture as they lick pastry dust, from the dessert table in the back of the gallery, off their hands.

Wade observes the crowd with warm curiosity, fascinated by what each viewer derives from her compositions.

“With this abstract work, I’m not telling the viewer what to see, I’m not giving a message – I’m kind of letting the viewer take what they want,” Wade said.

Wade learned oil painting in high school, but, this being her first exhibition, she didn’t start “actively painting,” as she put it, until 2016—practicing photography and music before then.

In the future, she would love to try her hand at art restoration for museums. The Surrealism movement of the early 20th Century particularly fascinates her. Her face lights up as she mentions names like Salvador Dali.

Featuring exceptional depth and texture, her paintings consume viewers as they examine each piece. One man—with rugged hair and worn shoes—sits alone, staring into one of her designs as the portrait slowly consumes his field of view.

People move past him, making their way around the white, rectangular room, lightly brushing shoulders and mingling as they settle in.

It’s a good turnout. About 20 or 30 people fill the well-lit room on the third floor of the Bell Memorial Union at the height of the event.

With the gallery open to the public, many of Wade’s family and friends stand in attendance. They gaze at all the abstract pieces of art scattered across the walls—looking proud to see so much of her work finished and in one place.

While painting at home, Wade often finds that she focuses on more than one unfinished design at a time—jumping from piece-to-piece as inspiration hits her.

Wade says that art “evokes something in our senses.”

With most of her work coming from “emotion and instinctual feeling,” she places no boundaries on her expressions.

Her compositions offer no enigma. They simply look to give people what their minds will naturally take.

“Vitality” will be on display in the third-floor gallery of the BMU until Oct. 19. Go visit Wade’s work while you can.

Grant Schmieding can be reached at [email protected] or @G_Schmieding on Twitter.