Artist Kreh Mellick’s work is influenced by a variety of sources from her family’s passion for collecting antiques to her great-grandmother’s sketch books and by Pennsylvania Dutch folklore. But perhaps nothing is more surprising than the inspiration she felt after picking up an old book of machine drawings.
The diagrams of the machines were in black and red ink. The black represented the non-moving machine while the red showed the moving parts.
“I can’t recall the moment or even the particular image I was looking at, but I had this sense of the black being the real – the constant – and the red being the unreal or ever-changing,” Mellick said. “From that I started making these drawing with these two colors, and I was thinking of the image of the real world versus the spirit world and ghosts, and the relationship between those two things.”
Her solo exhibition, Kreh Mellick: All the Woodsy Things, runs until Sunday, Nov. 13.
Mellick usually works with gouache on paper, often times cutting and layering the paper. Her figures are often ghost-like with decorative motifs and light, airy landscapes. Her works are often narratives inspired by folklore, nostalgia and a time passed.
“I want to be able to relate some kind of story that is vague or invites the viewer to say ‘Oh, maybe this is happening’, “Mellick said. “I like that there’s some kind of mystery involved.”
Mellick’s studio is located in an old panty hose factory near the Penland School of Crafts where she was in the core fellowship program and met her husband, artist Andrew Hayes, who also has a solo show at the Museum opening simultaneously.
Mellick’s work is also inspired by antiques collected by her family and her grandmother’s sketch books.
A lot of the time I just sit down and start drawing and sometimes an idea comes to me,” she said. “For a while I’ve been using these decorative motifs to fill the paper and that came from being surrounded by the kind of imagery of antiques that we’ve had in the house. My great- grandmother did these paintings on furniture and as reverse-glass painting. I would use images from her sketchbooks and embellish upon them. That is where some of these decorative motifs come from. So, I’m just in the studio working, working, working until something clicks into place.”
All the Woodsy Things runs until Nov. 13.
Image Credit: Kreh Mellick, Tiger’s Nest, 2016, Gouache and cut paper, 16.5 X 27.5 inches, courtesy of the artist.