Meg Bates Lignell Hung Thousands of Dyed Rags That Invite Viewers to Walk Among Them
The Weight Room Gallery at West Campus recently hosted an installation by Meg Bates Lignell, a senior in BYU’s Art BFA program. Lignell often evokes mental and emotional experiences in her work, and she recently began working with three-dimensional elements and themes of suffering and healing.
The installation, titled “4380,” is based on the Biblical story of the woman with the issue of blood. It is composed of 4,380 dyed rags that “symbolize the days of one woman's turmoil.” The soft hanging sculptures invite gallery-goers to walk through and around them.
Lignell shared her personal thoughts on this project and reflected on how her time at BYU prepared her for it and has influenced her artistry.
Q: How did you decide to go for the art program?
Lignell: Before I was an art major, I was a statistics major planning to be an actuary. However, after serving a full-time service mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I realized that I wanted to pursue an education in art. As a missionary during COVID-19 I had to come up with creative ways to serve. I felt prompted to start learning to paint! Eventually, I started painting stationery and writing to the widows in my stake and I discovered my love for art. When I returned to BYU after my mission, I changed my major to art!
Q: How does your identity as a disciple of Christ influence your art and approach to creating art?
Lignell: In the past, I was apprehensive about using religious themes in my artwork because of the potential for friction or criticism. However, once I got the idea for "4380", I couldn’t let it go. I realized that as a disciple of Jesus Christ, I can draw on His strength to testify of Him even when it feels daunting. I also remembered the times when I’ve been inspired by religious art and this thought motivated me to use my art as a way to serve.
Q: How has the project gone overall? What has been surprising or challenging about it?
Lignell: The production of this piece took much longer than expected and I ended up needing many hands to complete it. In context of the story of the woman with the issue of blood, it was incredible to see so many women volunteer to cut, dye, tie and install this piece.
Q: What do you want people to know about “4380?”
Lignell: I would love for my audience to leave the exhibition with a feeling of peace and hope. Although this artwork illustrates many years of suffering, I hope there is a prevailing message of deliverance. Christ is at the center of this piece and I hope that as viewers interact with this installation, they will feel a portion of his endless healing.
Q: How has BYU prepared you for a career as an artist?
Lignell: The art department at BYU brings out visiting artists every week in the fall and winter semesters. These seminars have sparked my excitement about being a professional artist and given me valuable insight into managing my career. My husband Andrew and I are anticipating starting a family in the near future and I’m so grateful for the strong female visiting artists who shared their experiences as mothers and artists.
The BFA program also requires students to apply for gallery spaces outside of BYU once per semester. This guideline helps me to be brave and create professional connections within the art community. Additionally, I am looking into MFA and residency programs around the world to further and enrich my practice after I graduate in the Spring.
"4380" will hang in the Weight Room Gallery until July 10th.
And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, when she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.
And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.
But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.
And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.