Meow: You’ve Been Memed

A Community Connections Project

"Meow, you've been memed": Catherine Miller at TEDxSalem:

February 02, 2015 – March 16, 2015

Curated by: Catherine J. H. Miller, with assistance from Molly O'Leary, Curatorial Intern

“In May of 2014, I told a room of 750 people at TEDxConcordia that I have been obsessively making art from cat memes such as “grumpy cat.” I admitted that I had no clue why I was doing it, but I knew it was important. By September, I told another room full of people at TEDxSalem that I had figured out why I needed to draw so many cats.

When I started drawing images of cats I was working in the arts but not making what I considered art. By printing oodles of viral cat images, and stuffing my sketchbook with them, I figured I could fit some drawing into my day-to-day life. In whatever time I had available, be it my 15-minute break or my lunch hour, I drew kitties. I did this for 20 months. I never thought to make a finished drawing, only to keep making work. The making was the important part. I know that I regularly revert to what is comforting and easy in order to deal with what is most difficult: like the fear that my work is going nowhere, that there is no time to make art, and much darker things. My undergraduate professors at PNCA told me to draw whatever I could and to “just keep going,” that the really good art would come. This is very true and good advice.

When I began, I thought the act of enjoying and sharing cat memes was self-centered and surely a sign that Western culture was in decline. I was wrong. To me, cat memes are a sign that Western culture is finding more tailored social behaviors to create relationships and connections between individuals. I now see cat memes as a sign of culture adapting to technology and by using these new tools, creating a new way of communicating.”

— Catherine J.H. Miller