By SHANON QUINN | INLAND360.COM
Spokane-based artist Melissa Cole, whose mosaic creation “Confluence” is installed on the pedestrian bridge over U.S. Highway 12 at Fifth Street and the levee bypass in Lewiston recently won Juror’s Choice at the Mosaic Arts International Exhibit in Houston, Texas.
Italian mosaic artist Giulio Menossi described the work, in a press release, as an “interesting project to revive and give life to a structure, otherwise without any interest … a perfect integration of landscape … a network … a road and the sky.”
She told 360 she started with watercolor, because it was so portable, switched to acrylics to avoid having to mat, glass and frame everything and then added sculptural components.
“I have always loved sculpture,” she said. “I wanted materials that
could hold up in exterior installations but were still colorful, because I wanted my style to transfer from medium to medium … and so I learned how to create concrete sculptures with glass mosaic, fused glass and most recently enameled metal.”
Cole’s acrylic pieces will be available for viewing through May 25 at the Dahmen Barn in Uniontown.
360: Where do you create your art?
MC: I have a finished 10 by 20 foot studio space in my garage. Now that I am working with concrete, ceramic, fused glass and enameled metal, I would like to build a second studio/shop behind our house for the “messy” stuff and do my paintings in my existing space.
360: Is your inspiration from life, other art, photographs or your own imagination?
MC: From a combination of my experiences of interacting with creatures in their natural environment, the textures and patterns I see on my travels, my dreams and imagination and occasionally photographs.
360: Your art conveys deep feeling, what drives you as an artist?
MC: I am passionate about many things, especially wildlife and nature but also colors, textures, classical music, dance, theater, all things artistic. I love how art can break boundaries and bring people together. For something so seemingly simple, it is deceptively powerful and can elicit strong emotions from both the creator and observer.
360: Where do you feel the future of art is headed?
MC: We should not have taken all of the arts out of schools. Children learn in so many ways and social and motor skills as well as math, literacy and sciences can be learned from the creation of art. … The pendulum must swing back in the other direction. … People are starting to realize the benefits of the process of creativity rather than being focused on the end result of a “work of art”
360: What’s the role of the artist in society?
MC: People of all walks of life crave the chance to be creative in some sort of capacity. I have found working with community groups to be hugely rewarding, powerful and positive. Creating artwork together can transcend racial, generational and socio-economic boundaries. These bonds last much longer than the actual creation of artwork.
360: Who is your favorite artist and why?
MC: I have many favorite artists: Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Van Gogh, Franz Marc I really love Gustav Klimt because he had realistic figures surrounded by the patterns I love.
360: Are the people depicted in your work from life, or fanciful?
MC: Completely fanciful. I have never been able to do portraits or realistic artwork. I just paint the figures, and they take on their own emotions and personalities.
360: What inspired you to become an artist?
MC: Many people in my family including my mother, grandmother, aunts and cousins on both sides are artistic. I read Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” 16 years ago and that is what really started my path of creativity and eventually a career.
360: What was your first thought and emotion when you knew “Confluence” had won Juror’s Choice Award at the Mosaic Arts International Exhibit?
MC: Shock and then happiness! I am not only happy that people will learn more about my artwork, but I am happy to act as the artistic emissary to our beautiful and little known part of the country.
360: What else?
MC: People often say “I can’t even draw a stick figure” and I don’t think that matters, being creative adds great joy to life … so just find something that lifts your spirits and brings you peace and pleasure and don’t worry about the end result so very much.
if you go:
WHAT: Raw Energy, acrylic paintings by Melissa Cole
WHEN: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday-Sunday through May 25
WHERE: Artisans at the Dahmen Barn, 419 N. Parkway, Uniontown