Thursday, January 13, 2011

In the Gallery: Postcards from the Floating World, selected collages by Melanie Reed

Melanie's artwork is currently being displayed at Freehold Theatre, 2222 2nd Avenue, Suite 200.

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Growing up in a world out of balance, I was able, through some mysterious combination of luck, survival skills, experience or personality, to find comfort in nature and a definite, immediate affinity with certain types of art. Surrealist art became a favorite touchstone, because its evocative, symbolic and often disturbing language is so appropriate for describing the "floating world" between nature's harmony and man's disharmony - a world of flux, confusion and intense conflicting feelings, despite whatever creative new "machine" one tries to build to stabilize oneself.

I eventually found the making of my own art to be an excellent way of organizing the chaotic and overwhelming thoughts that often accompany a life out of balance. Expressing these thoughts through the language of surrealism has helped me to feel connected to a community of kindred spirits and understand that my own experiences are not isolated, but have been felt and observed by many others in the same or similar ways.

The process begins with the collection of a number of unrelated images to which I find myself drawn by a mysterious yet distinct resonance. These images serve as dormant life forms, which, when placed close together in certain particular groupings, give life to each other and transmute into newer and more complex life forms. During this process, I strive for high levels of both personal emotional awareness and compositional craft, attempting to match the sensibility both of my own emotional "landscape" as well as that of other artists' more representational landscapes to which I tend to have the strongest emotional response.

To address the balance issue even more broadly, thoroughly and effectively, I am interested in advocating higher levels of emotional consciousness in relationship with ourselves and others in order to move towards a greater sense of integrated harmonious connection. But before we can do this, we have to first be able to see the strangeness that is us. Surrealist art should be thought of as snapshots from a dream world that reflects the real world by throwing its imbalance into sharp perspective. It need not be intellectually "understood," but should be felt viscerally and recognized personally, in ways that may often prove to be disturbing and complex.

I would like to invite the viewer to let the imagery in each of these pieces flow over them, enter into the spirit of the piece, and allow its energy to work a subtle transformation of body, mind and soul. Just as change of place gives new perspective, these pieces aim to conjure up new worlds, new ways to see ourselves, creating landscapes of personal resonance that are broad, deep, and emotionally evocative enough to allow their visitors to return again and again for expanding, ever-changing explorations.

Melanie is a dedicated theater-goer and long-term supporter of Freehold.

Photo above: Wraith
Photo below: The Takeover

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