Melanie Johnson - Garden of Bewilderment
Melanie Johnson is an artist and an educator. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Melanie earned a BFA from Missouri State University (2003) and an MFA from the Henry Radford School of Art at Indiana University, Bloomington (2006). She is currently Professor of Painting and Drawing at University of Central Missouri. Her large scale charcoal drawings recall sensory and emotional connections to animals and the natural landscape. She lives in Prairie Village, Kansas.
My drawings recall the sensory and emotional connections inherent in my bonds with animals and the natural landscape, and the ways in which animals provide some of my earliest empathetic relationships and routine caregiving experiences. Examining these formative bonds has caused me to return to the physical and psychological landscapes connected to the life cycles of animals, and has made me increasingly aware of the existential parallels and patterns in human behavior. Mining the imagery of familiar landscapes gives form to a dissonant accrual of lived experiences, personal iconography, loss, and sense of place.
I think about the relationship of time and narrative selection when making drawings, both in terms of constructing a story through representational imagery, and in the tactile manipulation of materials to communicate an idea. My drawings serve simultaneously as narrative vehicles and as physical artifacts that reference the history of their own manifestation, giving agency to narrative conceit and suspension of disbelief, but also providing a connection to haptic and emotional experience. Surface palimpsest, the layering of marks over time, and indexical mark-making are active metaphors in my work. I want to be present through the physicality of the drawing as both storyteller and protagonist.