In the Studio: Meike Legler

"No More Story Telling"  - 2018. Mixed fabrics over stretched canvas.

"No More Story Telling" - 2018. Mixed fabrics over stretched canvas.

Meike Legler is a German textile artist based out of LA.
You can see more of Meike's work on her website and over on Instagram


Thanks for taking some time to talk. How long have you been living in Los Angeles?

My husband and I moved here in April 2016, so it’s a bit more than 2 years now that we've called LA our hometown.

What made you decide to move from Germany?

It may sound funny, but we had just become a bit tired of Berlin after having lived there for almost 10 years and really wanted a change. Before we actually moved, it took us about nine months to get my Green Card, sell our furniture, ship my husband’s complete studio to LA, and to pack our remaining belongings before we came here.

"Somewhere In Absurdistan"  - 2018.   Mixed fabrics over stretched canvas.

"Somewhere In Absurdistan" - 2018. Mixed fabrics over stretched canvas.

What do you miss the most? 

I hardly ever miss anything about Germany, but when I do, it’s the German health care system, a decent amount of paid vacation days and paid maternity leave for more than just 8 weeks, and affordable day care for children. Foods that are not enriched with vitamins and minerals from the lab. Quite a few things when I think about it.

I read once that hiking in Ojai helps inspire you. What is it that draws you to the desert? 

Ojai is one of the many great getaways near LA where I sometimes go to get a break from the city, the exhausting traffic, the noise, the people, and my familiar environment. I love the last part of the way to Ojai, that leads you on a windy, narrow street through the woods. It’s so beautiful and calming up there with hardly any outside stimulation, which helps me to relax and forget about things that keep my mind running in my everyday life. Hiking through nature can put things in perspective and helps me to see them from other points of view.

Has LA informed or changed your art at all? 

I actually only started making art after we had moved to LA, so I can’t tell if the city has changed my work. What I do know though is that LA has given me the feeling that I should just give art a go and the confidence to share it with the world. Maybe it’s because when you move, oftentimes it’s easier for people to make professional changes in their life since pretty much everything has changed already anyway. The hurdle to give new things a try isn’t that high anymore.

"Whenever a phrase comes to my mind and I like it, I write it down in my notebook and see if it fits to a piece I just finished."

Tantrum On The Phone  - 2018. Mixed fabrics over stretched canvas

Tantrum On The Phone - 2018. Mixed fabrics over stretched canvas

I really love the titles of your work (“No More Story Telling”, “Like a Dream Only Better and Real”) how do those take shape? Do you pull them from other sources or do you create them on your own? 

The titles actually come to me very spontaneously and mostly have to do with a situation in my life I’m dealing with at the time. One could say that my titles are to a certain extent autobiographical or a summary of my days. Whenever a phrase comes to my mind and I like it, I write it down in my notebook and see if it fits to a piece I just finished.

Also, I like to come up with fun titles like “Tantrum On The Phone” to remind myself of a very upset phone call I had with someone, which seems kind of hilarious in hindsight. Art doesn’t have to be serious all the time, why not give a happy-colored piece a fun title?

How did you initially start exploring using textiles to make art? Was it accidental or intentional?

When we moved here I brought a lot of leftover fabrics from the time when I designed and sold pillow cases and I was sitting on these fabrics for a few months, thinking what I could make with them other than a pillow case and finally the idea to sew pieces in a certain composition together and to then stretch them over a frame came up. I started with a very small format and once it was stretched and I hung it on the wall I was on fire. I had so many more compositions and ideas in my head that from this moment on I started producing nearly on a daily basis and I kept up that output for about a year and a half.

"Not Silence Not Noise"  - 2017. Mixed fabrics over stretched canvas

"Not Silence Not Noise" - 2017. Mixed fabrics over stretched canvas

What do you think makes the process of working with textiles different compared to painting, drawing, or sculpting?

Working with fabrics feels very familiar to me as I worked as a fashion designer for a few years and I can touch it directly without a pen or a paintbrush in between. Sculpting seems very attractive to me, I think if I ever get into that I would probably make sculptures out of clay since I like it when I can shape things directly with my hands.

When you’re sourcing fabric what do you look for first? Color, texture? 

It’s both, sometimes I look for a specific color and then the texture isn’t that important or the other way around.

Do you listen to music while you work? What are a few artists or songs that you're enjoying right now?

Yes, for the most part I do unless I feel the need for silence or it’s past 12pm and KCRW only broadcasts news. Some random artists I really enjoy are Glass Animals, Sam Evian, Ty Segall, PJ Harvey, Cold War Kids, Janelle Monàe, Leonard Cohen, Christine and the Queens, Beck, The Kills, and TV on the Radio to name a few.

Is there anything you’re excited to try and experiment with in the future? 

I'd like to experiment with resin or wax as a finish on my works, either partially or on the complete surface. But it’s also great to not know yet what’s going to come up in the future and just let things happen. I’ve been training myself to let go of control more and to give things the space to unfold without me trying to take charge.

Do you have any exhibitions coming up? What’s next for you? 

At this point, there is no exhibition in the pipeline, but offers to be in an exhibition usually come out of the blue and without too much notice. Next for me is the birth of our baby daughter, which will be at the end of August and I’m looking forward to enjoying the first weeks with her at home. I’m excited to rent a studio outside of our apartment in a few months and work on large pieces again.

You can see more of Meike's work on her website and over on Instagram

Thomas McDermott