We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Melody Epperson a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Alright, Melody thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. We’d love to hear about a project that you’ve worked on that’s meant a lot to you.
My artwork often feels very meaningful to me because, I focus on my experience as a woman, both within my own skin and within society. Recently, I have been drawn to nature and the wisdom that lies within her. In my art practice I first am drawn to an idea such as “the wisdom of nature” and then I begin to research this idea. When I began my investigation into nature, I found that science has made some pretty amazing discoveries about trees recently. Such as, the phenomenon that forests and trees support one another through an underground network of mycorrhizal connections.
During the pandemic I realized the importance of connection. In part, this was because we were isolated. It was also, because I spent more and more time in nature and experienced a sense of peace and ease while there. This time in nature helped me recognize the deep wisdom that nature holds. My artwork began to reflect this wisdom and address our need for connection.
In February 2022, just a few days after the tragic wildfire in Marshall Creek, I created an installation entitled “I See You…” that grew from my research on trees and my desire to connect. The installation was shown at the REACH Core Artist annual show entitled “Beyond the Horizon” at Redline Contemporary Art. The Marshall Fire, just a few miles from my own home, reinforced my passion for the underground network of mycorrhizal connections. This work illustrates and honors this network and remind us that amidst tragedy, there are millions of underground organisms stitching the wounds back together.
“I See You…” features mirrors surrounded by roots to remind us of our common humanity and the reminiscent need for connection. Hanging in the center is a heart, a metaphor of our empathetic heart, the tree, drawn from the charred remains of the Marshall Fire; this serves as a reminder of the lessons of interdependence found within nature. “I See You…” utilizes mixed media, including borrowed charcoaled remains from the Marshall Fire, dry grasses, wood, paper, mirrors, mycorrhizae, red and yellow iron oxide, and clay.
The idea came to me suddenly as I watched the smoke billow outside my windows. I wanted to express both the devastating loss and the hope that comes when people step up to help one another. I had the inspiration to draw on the wall with the charcoal from the burned remains of the Marshall Fire. Drawing on the walls on the pristine white walls of a gallery is a crazy idea but the gallery was completely supportive of it.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
I am a visual artist who uses many different forms of media. Although I am primarily a painter, I incorporate sculpture, drawing, printmaking and installation art into my artwork. My creative process is central to my artwork. It starts when I become curious about a concept. Then I reflect or investigate the idea, and finally, I take a creative action. The concept of the artwork, and the discovery of its meaning, is often more important to me than the media itself. And thus, I feel free to switch media to better express my meaning.
Recently I have been painting with wax, both encaustic and cold wax with oil paint. I love the experience of working with wax, both the feel and smell of it. I have discovered many layers of meaning hidden within this media. Wax is sensual and fragile, yet still durable, like my own skin. Like the experience of me as a woman.
My process of curiosity to creative action is evident within my series of suffrage portraits. I became curious about my own history as a woman. Then, I began to investigate the individual leaders involved in woman’s suffrage. From this research, I created a series of almost fifty portraits and twenty assemblage pieces telling the story of women’s suffrage. Sometimes my creative action manifests with the actual artwork, but other times it comes in the form of social activism such as registering voters.
This is the way I live my life, as well as how I create my art. I seek to use my creativity to bring about change within myself and sometimes others. The artwork invites the viewer into my process. It invites them, in a way, into my skin, and my experience as a woman. Through this connection with the viewer, and their personal response to my art, change is possible.
When you encounter my artwork, I hope you will see more than a beautiful piece of art. I desire connection, and therefore I seek to communicate with you in some way. To share my experience in life and to connect with yours.
Are there any books, videos or other content that you feel have meaningfully impacted your thinking?
I have found many useful resources to help me on my journey in the creative world. I am constantly taking webinars, reading inspirational books and finding people to mentor me in this journey. One, in particular, is “Coaching the Artist Within: Advice for Writers, Actors, Visual Artists, and Musicians from America’s Foremost Creativity Coach”, a book by Eric Maisel. In this book, Maisel encourages self-coaching. It is not only practical but is full of stories of other artists who overcame very common problems. From this book I was able to create an intention, a plan for where I want to go with my art.
For you, what’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative?
To me being an artist is rewarding because it keeps me connected to the present moment and helps me live an authentic life. To be an artist you must bring art into every aspect of your life. At any time, anything in life can become the subject of your next artwork. And thus, you have to pay attention. We only live this “one precious life” once. And if we choose to foster and grow our artistic side, it requires a degree of honesty about what is happening in that life. That is if you really take the time to make meaningful art. Being an artist also involves finding your own voice, which keeps the mundane interesting. Art is also a brilliant language and I sincerely believe that artists are some of the most brilliant minds on Earth. Finally, art is rewarding to me because it inspires me to keep going. To keep striving towards the hope that I will make one great piece of art in my lifetime.
- Website: www.melodyepperson.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/melody.epperson/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SheDidWeWill
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/melody-epperson-84ab6a38/
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3b9FUTF35AzGod2c5nvHAQ
Wide shot of Arvada Center show 100+1- Wes Magyar Melody in her studio- Fiona Small All other photo by Melody Epperson