Artist: Megan Coonelly
Megan Coonelly was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the youngest of three daughters. Her parents noted and encouraged her artistic talent at a very young age. Coonelly attended the Arcadia University in Glenside, and Accademia Italiani in Florence, Italy where she completed her studies in studio art, receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2006. After graduating, she took a more practical approach to the job market. She began working in advertising at D4 Creative Group in Philadelphia as an administrative assistant. She learned about campaigns and branding. In 2009 she joined Park West Galleries at Sea as an art gallery associate. During this time she learned about selling art, the artists they represented and their stories. She knew she had to get back in the studio and begin work as a full time artist. Her passions overflowed. She finished her Masters of Fine Arts in 2017 at Illinois State University on a full scholarship. Before graduating she would garner high profile collectors like Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds and pop culture artist and mogul Ashley Longshore.
Since she was a young girl, she’s had a deep interest in pop culture. The “here and now” of culture, colors, and traditions are all present in Coonelly’s work, creating her style. Growing up, Coonelly remembers rummaging through her mother’s jewelry box filled with gold tubed lipsticks, trying on her shoes, and wearing her rosaries. She grew up Roman Catholic attending mass with her family every Sunday. She would also attend novena masses with her Mother and Grandmother and no matter the occasion they always were wearing their Sunday best. These routines would provide perfect inspiration for her obsessive personality and Megan would find her true passions in painting. Her parents did not have much and could not afford the “finer things.” Often her Mother would make her clothes and meals would be varied forms of potatoes. She had desires of makeup and nice shoes. She was often given hand me downs. These experiences would influence her work in a large way.
Early on she began painting in multiples. This signature move would allow Coonelly to paint dozens to hundred of original works at the same time. One of anything is never enough. Women don’t have or apply lipstick once. Women don’t wear our high heels once. No one can eat just one macaron. This would allow the paint to flow more freely and does not give the painting a chance to be overworked. The colors would remain saturated and bold. Her inspiration on these subjects would draw comparisons to 70’s pop icons Warhol and Theibaud. She even began investigating the lipstick paintings of Theibaud re-creating and manipulating the colors of the lipsticks and tubes in numerous paintings at varied scales. Coonelly’s multiples allows her to work as small as 4×6” to 60×72” and larger. It was these mini paintings that caught the attention of pop culture artist and mogul Ashley Longshore.
In 2016, when her Grandmother passed she began her #HailMary project. She wanted to celebrate the dedicated Catholic her grandmother was and she began creating Pop portraits of the Blessed Mary adorned in gold leaf in a revealing and masking way acknowledging the mystery of the word. These paintings are a meditation and prayer in practice and creation. They are created to show faith doesn’t have to be solemn act, it should be joyous and bright and hopeful!
Coonelly feels she is just getting started in her career. She became pregnant in 2015 with twins during her second year at Illinois State University. Taking no time off she dove into her final year as a single Mother finishing up her Masters. During this productive time she would create her largest painting “Something You Can Do With Your Mouth” measuring 6 x 24 foot. She would produce and sell over 200 paintings gaining collectors worldwide including celebrity power couple Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, garnering press in Architectural Digest and Women’s Wear Daily.
Coonelly currently resides and works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with her two children.