The art world and the automotive world exist in two seemingly separate universes, but when they collide, magic happens. When you see a beautifully designed vehicle, it has the power to stop you in your tracks, not unlike a particularly moving piece of art. When a beautifully designed car is also the canvas, however, it moves in more ways. Like Porsche, Meaghan Claire Kehoe, a Canadian artist based in the Toronto suburb of Oshawa, is in the business of moving people.
“The whole point of art is to challenge the regular way of thinking,” she said. “Art is for sparking conversations and making people look, and this Porsche Taycan is literally a moving piece of art.”
Specializing in murals and street art, Kehoe participates regularly in Art Battles, which is what happens when creating art turns into a competitive sport. Challenged with painting a Porsche Taycan against another competitor in the span of three hours, on a type of canvas she’s never worked on before, and under the gaze of a live audience, the pressure was intense, but she was inspired.
“I started out with the feeling of being electrified,” she said. She was excited by the fact that the Taycan is Porsche’s first fully electric car. Inspired by “natural elements that give us energy like water and wind,” Kehoe wanted to incorporate themes of energy and nature into her Taycan art piece. A fuzzy bee lands on the Taycan’s hood during our interview, which took place by a mural she painted. Kehoe crouches down and coos at it, marvelling at this little creature and how happy it seems surrounded by her art.
If the whole point of this art car was to connect more with nature, it looks like it’s working. “I knew that I needed to go electric with the colours and then it was about capturing the flow of natural elements over this man-made machine that’s trying to be more one with nature,” she said, noting that the need for better sustainability can’t be ignored. The intense neon colours, the graphic-novel-style art, the clouds in the wind, and the general movement of the brushstrokes and shapes over the Taycan’s swoopy bodywork all work together to bring her vision to life.
Not everyone liked it, however, and she didn’t win the Art Battle in the end, but that’s all part of the process. The night of the Art Battle, a spectator went as far to say he hated Kehoe’s work on the Taycan.
“It’s too feminine,” he said. “It doesn’t belong on a car.” That was a loaded statement that left us with lots to unpack and roll our eyes at. “It means that I’m doing something right if I’m pushing someone out of their comfort zone, someone who has had the privilege and the power historically for a very long time,” she said. “That means I’m moving something, more to that theme of movement, power, and energy. Having that femininity on a sports car, which is stereotypically a very male domain, it’s kind of nice to reclaim those gender roles.”
Those gender roles are on stark display in the male-dominated field of street art, but also in the automotive world as well. “Luckily there are more and more female street artists coming up and learning how to spray paint,” she said “There are so few of us because we can’t go out at night illegally spray-painting random property because of the danger that comes with being a woman at night, so we have to come up in a different way.”
Kehoe has taken it upon herself to mentor new female street artists, networking with them and even letting them use her spray paints because new artists generally can’t afford expensive materials. “I teach them some skills, show some tricks with the can, and I just want to help them grow their business and grow their potential,” she said, underlining how important it is for different perspectives in art and everywhere else. “The more heads, the more ideas, the more awareness and inclusion.”
Besides not being able to go out and paint at night because of the inherent danger it presents to women, Kehoe has also grappled with her physical appearance and how it impacts her art. She mentions how female street artists often shapeshift to either feel safer or more accepted in their field.
“I’ve definitely presented less stereotypically feminine over the years. And I think that’s both subconscious and conscious because I didn’t enjoy the attention that I would get,” she said, noting that her physical appearance would steal focus from her actual art. In the past, she also cut her hair short and dyed it fire-engine red in an attempt to “scare men away” and stop strangers from sexualizing her while she worked, but she said it made no difference. “Why can’t I just do what I want to do without having to think of that? A lot of men don’t think about this, it’s a complete blind spot for them,” she said. “The difference is in the way we’re treated professionally, sexually, socially, on every, every, every plane.”
Still, Kehoe has found strength in femininity and has learned to lean into her unique perspective while creating her art. “I love doing portraiture and I love featuring a strong or complex female figure,” she says, adding that in the beginning of her career, she would paint in a more masculine style because that was the expected norm at the time. “But I’ve definitely let that feminine energy come in more and more as I build my confidence and reputation.”
As for the Taycan, it creates a palpable energy wherever it goes. Its neon pink palette and strong feminine presence are unapologetic as the electric car moves, punching through the relatively drab streets with confidence, radiating positivity and happiness wherever it goes. As a moving piece of art, it moves in more ways than one, making a lasting impact on anyone lucky enough to experience it.