Interview with Kelsey Melville
On June 14th we will be exhibiting the ceramic work of Kelsey Melville in the MOO-YOUNG Concept Shop for Capitol Hill Art Walk.
Originally from North Carolina, Melville is a visual artist living and working in Seattle, WA. In 2010, she graduated from Appalachian State University, receiving a BFA in Studio Art with a concentration in Ceramic Sculpture. Working with a variety of materials and processes, the central idea behind her work deals with human emotion, thought, experience and connection. As a nature lover, and avid traveler, Melville gains constant inspiration through the ever changing landscapes of our world.
"The central idea behind my work deals with our impermanent state of existence and how this drives humanity as a whole. Throughout life, we create connections between parent and child, human and animal, past and present, to add value to our existence. My artwork portrays this delicate balance between life and death, and how we can draw hope and beauty from it. By acknowledging that our time is limited here on earth,we are motivated to live life to the fullest, and let trivial pursuits subside. By reflecting the tangible things that evoke our memory once we are gone; my work offers a collection of nostalgia. These physical remnants serve as a reminder of how precious life is, and honors all things that pass."
Intrigued not only by her intricate and life-like skulls, but by the story behind them, we interviewed Melville to learn more about who she is outside her work, and what inspires her as an artist.
Myriah: How did you come to work with your medium? Why did you choose this medium?
Kelsey: I started working with clay in middle school. By the time I got to College, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue further. I’ve tried almost every type of artistic medium, but nothing spoke to me as much as working with clay. I love the versatility of clay, you can manipulate the material into almost anything. Somehow the process itself is both challenging + therapeutic at the same time.
M: Have you always wanted to be an artist/maker?
K: I wouldn’t say that I have always wanted to be an artist, but it was something enjoyed from a young age; art class was always my favorite.
M: If you were not doing ceramics what do you think you would be doing?
K: TRAVELING THE WORLD! I love to travel and explore new places, if I can spend the rest of my life traveling - I would.
M: How long have you been practicing your art?
K: I didn’t start taking art seriously until college, when I graduated with a BFA in ceramic sculpture. After graduating, I shifted my focus to building a career in the art museum world, and it wasn’t until moving to Seattle in 2017 that I decided to pursue art full time + started my own business.
M: Where do you draw inspiration from?What inspires you the most?
K: Nature + Impermanence | From a young age, I’ve had an awareness of death, fascinated by the myriad of ways in which we try to explain, accept or deny death. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to face it, but I find that having an awareness of our mortality motivates me to live a full life and allow trivial pursuits to subside.
M: What experiences have shaped you as an artist?
K: I credit much of who I am to growing up in a supportive and open minded household. My parents allowed my brothers and I to think freely, to form our own opinions and have our own life experiences, they never restricted the paths we chose in life.
M: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
K: I Was raised to have a strong sense of morals and justice, to never lie or cheat, to be authentic in who you are, and empathetic to others— I am eternally grateful for having such a solid foundation and moral compass to live by.
M: What’s the worst piece of advice given?
K: I’ve had some truly terrible work experiences, and the worse advice I ever got was telling me not to quit my job, I don’t think anyone should ever stay in any situation that makes them miserable - life is too short!
M: What do people ask you the most? Do you like or dislike and why?
K: People ask “why skulls?” Which I don’t mind, unless it is followed up with “skulls are so morbid.” I don’t find skulls to be morbid, I find them to be a beautiful symbol of life and death. Acknowledging our state of impermanence allows us to appreciate the time we have.
M: Do you have a favorite piece or series you’ve ever made? If so, what is it?
K: I love my realistic porcelain skulls – I spent a lot of time carving every little detail, down to the teeth and cracks in the skulls – I am proud of the time and patience that went into it.
M: What is your dream project?K: I want to create a large installation that fills a space (with components that hang from the ceiling or pile up on the floor) and provides an immersive experience for visitors.
M: Who are your favorite artists?
K: My favorite artists are Georgia O’Keeffe + Frida Kahlo – both women are passionate, driven, incredibly strong and fiercely independent. I admire Kahlo’s bravery + ability to be completely vulnerable. I admire O’Keeffe’s appreciation for the simplicity of life + thebeauty that surrounded her. Yayoi Kusama is another artist I admire, her installations transport you to another dimension, experiencing her art is unforgettable.
M: Do you think Seattle is a good city for artist to thrive in?
K: Absolutely, this city has a rich and vibrant art scene, full of talented artists and a supportive community, It’s why my partner and I moved here!
M: What do you most enjoy doing (outside of your art)?
K:Traveling, visiting art museums + galleries, exploring the outdoors + nature, spending quality time with loved ones, and Italian + Mexican food!
M: What advice would you give to another artist trying to make it?
K: Pursue your passion, life is too short not to do what you love.
M: What’s your biggest challenge as a maker/artist?
K: Being too hard on myself, it’s so easy to beat myself up over a million things; not carving out enough time for art, not selling enough art, getting rejected by a gallery or store. I have to remind myself to celebrate the small victories and successes, it’s so important to be kind and supportive to yourself!
Melville has exhibited her work in galleries throughout North Carolina, including; The North Carolina Museum of Art, Delurk Gallery, and Visual Art Exchange. Since moving to Seattle in July of 2016, Melville has shown her work at multiple local galleries and shops, including; Bemis Arts, Party Hat, and Callus. Melville hopes to continue growing her artistic career and make an impact on the vibrant arts community in Seattle.