"I like to have people bring their own baggage to the drawings."
by Ursula Gullow . photo by Anthony Bellemare
They make witch huts. They paint trailers. They reclaim feminine stereotypes and symbols they once rejected. Whether they’re trying to or not, Asheville artists Kreh Mellick and Tara Jensen are creating work that draws on elements of pop culture and folklore—both of which are hot in the art world right now. Both young artists will be featured in an all-women exhibition in August at the Satellite Gallery in downtown Asheville. Mellick plans to show her paintings and drawings at a temporary downtown art space called Project Gallery, while Jensen will have a solo show at Satellite later this year.
When she was a child, Kreh Mellick says she was mostly concerned with coloring in the figures in her coloring books, her interest waning when it came time to fill in the backgrounds. Today she still chooses to color inside the lines, and this is precisely what puts her austere gouache paintings outside the box.
Depicting primarily women, Mellick creates haunting narratives of characters interacting within open spaces of untouched paper. "The landscapes are implied," says Mellick. "I like to have people bring their own baggage to the drawings."
Mellick, a bookbinder, took up drawing at Penland School of Crafts two years ago and finished the program last spring. Then she traveled to Iceland for three months to develop her work, taking along a notebook filled with patterns her grandmother had collected. The patterns were inspiring. "Stuff I would consider really girly—like flowers, twists and bows—I now look at as traditional elements to put into my work," she says. "You go through an angsty teenage thing where you reject everything your parents tell you and then you realize it makes up who you are even though you fought it."