The paintings and album art designs of Roger Dean caught my eye in early childhood. His mysterious, exotic, and fantastic landscapes, and striking color schemes rendered with advanced graphic techniques–accompanied by the brilliant progressive music of YES–made an immeasurable impact. From those experiences, to my joy, I began to recognize that present in visual art can be elements of music. Paul Klee, painter and poet, was another early influence. His experimentation with colors and patterns and the line, and his devotion to inner visions that took priority over realistic or representational art spoke to me. I became immersed in his work at the age of 6. There is also the work of too many to name: among them are Escher, Mondrian, Vallotton, the German expressionists, abstract expressionists, some of the impressionists and surrealists. Music and architecture and science and nature all are influences. What all of these artists and other things either demonstrate or evoke is imagination, passion (whether measured or explosive), and a desire to create.
The thirteen photographs and paintings in this issue show interest in strong contrast, the miracles and dynamics of light and water, exploration, and the moment. In search for discovery and wisdom, I want to develop a better understanding of self and the world by learning to see. Seeing itself is a cycle: What I see informs the photography and painting; the photography and painting inform what I see.
One element of my modus operandi, my manner of working, is the resolve to work through both the tough times and the good times, through joy and through pain, through moments of certainty and through moments of doubt. And in this way maybe I work to marry chaos with order. The idea is somewhat of a paraphrase of Rilke’s definition of love from his _Letters to a Young Poet_. I honor those moments when chaos and order meet–and protect and greet each other.
To reach the opportunity to make one of the photographs in this issue of _About Place_, for example, I had been wandering in what once was the land of our first peoples, hiking with purpose though somewhat aimlessly, when I found momentary order: accompanied by the shadow of a hand, “Cycle of Reaching VI” includes the petroglyph of a prehistoric artist who lived in the American West. Even when the result is what I would consider a viable piece or project, at times, process takes precedence over the end result.
Writing this statement has been akin to being a flame discussing fire. If you find something to value in my art, then I may have done something worthwhile. Please enjoy.
Melodie Past is a painter and photographer from Kentucky. She may be contacted at melodiepast.com.