Mike Egan, Our Lives Were A Lie
Mike Egan joined up around April, and we had a nice chat back then about his time as an embalmer in a funeral home, his influences, and much more. Here’s a wee excerpt, but go see it yourself if you missed it back in the spring.
Mike: After art school I didn’t really know what to do, so I needed something full-time while I did my art. I found out that there is a mortuary school here in Pittsburgh so went and checked it out.
TTP: So did you have an interest in “death” as a subject before you started working there, and it sort of helped it along? Or did you work there more because you needed a gig after school, it was interesting, and you got into “death” as a subject as a result of your time there?
Mike: No I always sort of had an interest in the idea of death. I studied printmaking in college and got turned onto Posada, Kollewitz, Beckman, etc. Really dark stuff that kinda snuck its way into my art
TTP: I’m way into it. I spent a bit of time in Dresden and got to see a lot of the Dix and Beckman post war stuff that maybe you reference at times (among other things). Also I read somewhere either on your website or in something written about you that you sometimes view each piece as like a portrait or a testimony to individual persons. Do you think of individuals when you paint now, years after the funeral home?
TTP: And maybe more personally, did you have direct contact with the bodies in the funeral home? Not to be too morbid, but are any of those bodies particularly memorable, or particularly present in any of your pieces?
Mike: I was a full-time embalmer for a funeral home, I really enjoyed the science aspects of the funeral industry. I also did restorative art and cosmetics, more art related. As for my paintings now I don’t think I attach them to anyone, I tend to think about my own life, future, and death. There are people that I remember from the funeral homes, sure. It tends to be the younger ones, people my age, but I don’t put them in my paintings.