Megan Auður: Conversations for healing

content warning: mentions of sexual harassment and assault.                                                                                  

In order to heal, we must speak about our trauma. In order to speak about our trauma, we must feel held, heard and be in a safe space. It is in creating these safer spaces and starting the conversations, where multi-disciplinary artist Megan Auður finds her practice. Often she intertwines this dialogue with a hands-on activity such as embroidery as a way of curating a socially engaged art practice for healing. Her work to date has involved creating a safe space for communication between survivors of sexual assault where such a space had not existed before. 

Born to an English mother and Icelandic father, Megan Auður grew up in Iceland before moving to Utrecht in The Netherlands to study fine art. She lived and worked in the Netherlands before moving back to Iceland in 2020. On her return, she found that there was no access to support groups for people who had been victims of sexual violence. She began an initiative called Looking for the Words. The aim was to have discussions around the language and words that are used when referring to someone who has survived sexual assault.

‘Looking for the Words’

The word most commonly used in Iceland currently is ‘Þolandi’. This which roughly translates to  translates to someone who has endured or tolerated something. Megan’s belief is that this term and many others used overall are particularly passive in regards to the perpetrator. She wishes for the language to change. As a result of these discussions, new words were brought up by survivors. ‘Áframlifandi’ means someone who continues to live and grow despite and with the trauma they have faced. Megan took these words, embroidered them onto pillows and pieces of fabric. She used these pillows to invite people to sit and be comfortable in the succeeding workshops. 

images by PILOTENKUECHE or supplied by artist

Prior to moving back to Iceland Megan had been doing work with an art institution based in Utrecht called BAK (basis voor actuele Kunst). The organisation works on long-term research projects that may include everything from small courses to workshops as well as exhibitions and panel discussions. Two of the projects that Megan assisted them with were Propositions for non-fascist living and Trainings for the not-yet. Megan was greatly inspired by their philosophy of propositional art practice behind these projects. She wishes to focus more on how humans can be hopeful and strive for collectivity. She would like to find alternative ways of living; ones that are maybe much kinder to our dying planet. 

Megans work focuses on healing herself and others

During her time at PILOTENKUECHE, Megan Auður hopes to deeply explore this sense of inner-healing and is looking at a few different approaches to this. Presently, she is still exploring where this will take her and what shape this collection of work will take.  She is letting herself become interested in found objects and be led by her artistic instincts. Thus far, her instincts have brought her to an array of subject matter which includes worms and the trails they make underground. Simultaneously, she is looking at combining the mapping of these worm trails to the idea of getting in touch with ones inner-child.

Capturing the depth and emotion behind Megan’s work has been an eye-opening experience and to be honest, words simply do not do justice to the profundity of her practice. Undoubtedly, Megan’s work will continue to transcend the boundaries language and country. Her extensive use of social engagement and community in her practice, as well as her emphasis on healing, is deeply touching and inspiring.  

“I’ve been thinking for the last few years about radical vulnerability and how it can be such a strength within social action and change. But it can also be a double-edged sword and you have to be careful how you use it.”


written by Marika Sheridan


Keep up with the latest from Megan on her website and Instagram .

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