Mel Watkin: Artist's Statement
My recent drawings (2006–2011) are based on the wide variety of trees that surround my old farmhouse in rural southern Illinois. Many of these drawings are small works in pencil on graph paper, but some are close to lifesize. My drawings look realistic, but the images are actually compilations of two or three different species with their usual characteristics exaggerated multiplied, or modified. I try to give the trees a slightly menacing quality, because, as recent events show, nature is beautiful, but dangerous. The Fallen is a series based on the many uprooted trees near my home––the tree in Mast is bandaged like a wounded soldier. On May 8, 2009 my area was hit by what is now called El Derecho—it was a storm that has been described as “an inland hurricane,” a “hurr-nado”, or a “torni-can” with winds reaching 106 miles per hour. It downed over 3,000 trees in the nearby city of Carbondale alone. Because of blocked roads, much of the area was with out water, gasoline, or electricity for 10 days. Luckily no one was killed, but damage to homes, businesses, and cars was extensive. In an area known for its lovely rolling hills and dense hardwood forests, the storm caused great loss, visually and emotionally.
Artist Bio / CV
Mel Watkin: Condensed Biography
Mel Watkin’s recent solo exhibitions include shows at Philip Slein Gallery, Sheldon Art Galleries and the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis;The Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago and the Salina Art Center in Kansas. Her recent installation work, drawings and artists’ books have been exhibited nationally in group exhibitions at The Jewish Institute of Religion Museum in New York, the Bronfman Gallery in Washington, D.C., the William Shearburn Gallery in St. Louis, and in “St. Louis Painters 2007 Invitational” at the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, Missouri, among other venues.
Articles about her artwork have appeared in Art in America, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Atlanta Journal, the St. Louis RiverFront Times, and The New Art Examiner. Her fellowships and grants include recognition from the Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest Illinois, the Illinois Arts Council, and the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming.
Her work is included in the flat files at Pierogi in Brooklyn, New York and her artists’ books can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Harvard University’s Fogg Museum, the New York Public Library and the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
She has recieved grants and fellowships from the Pollock Krasner Foundation (2011), Illinois Arts Council (2001, 2011) Pyramod Atlantic, Ragdale Foundation and Ucross Foundation, among others. In 2010 she was one of nine artists selected to create a permanent public art work for Lambert St. Louis Airport fabricated by Franz Mayer of Munich.