An Interview with First Friday Artist Melody Overstreet



This Friday at Stripe MEN we will be showing works by local artist Melody Overstreet. Her work has a scientific edge, the organic feel of images under a microscope being blown up.  We've asked Melody a few questions to understand a little bit more about her art and inspiration and look forward to seeing her work in our space. 

Growing up, what did art mean to you and how did you find yourself drawn to creating?
I grew up in Los Angeles in-house with my Persian grandparents surrounded by hand-carved ornate furniture, handwoven intricately patterned rugs, and textiles. I recall having time as a child to observe the functional and beautiful objects that were of cultural significance and contained a story. I grew up seeing everything, even objects, as animate and alive.

One of my fondest memories as a young one was witnessing my extended family all gathered together on the floor of our living space, playing the tonbak and using their voices to sing and recite poetry in beautifully attuned rhythms. Art was something that was a communal practice and brought my family together in a celebration of life. When I had the opportunity, I would lose myself in the practice of creating, forgetting time as I translated my imaginative world into tangible constructions. Art, for me, was a place I could dissolve into that simultaneously made me more intimate with my own humanity, as well as with others. To be able to make something from simple materials with my hands has drawn me to cultivate a creative life. To be able to ask questions and tell stories is both magical and personally fulfilling. The process of creating is a sacred act, and is one that I am excited to be able to share with others.

How were you trained and who/what are some of your influences?
I was fortunate to be able to study printmaking with Paul Rangell in the well-equipped Print Studio at UCSC, where I double-majored in Studio Art and Psychology. I have had many mentors over the years-- primarily women artists such as Linda Lopez and Daniella Woolf who embraced me as a young person in love with the arts and encouraged me on my creative path. Some of my inspirations include the 1970's tracks of Googoosh (an Iranian pop artist), textiles, seed farmers, healers, plants, ecology, eastern philosophy, and poetry.

What do you find yourself being inspired to create lately? 
Lately, I have felt inspired to create textural works that make visible the ever-present forces that are so integral to our delicate lives, things sometimes forgotten-- like water, mycelium, seeds. I enjoy depicting microscopic perspectives alongside macroscopic perspectives, and holding space for the relationship between all things. As above, so below! These invisible or in-between spaces are really juicy to me, and inspire me to create.

How do you feel you have changed or are changing as an artist?
I am constantly evolving as an artist, and find that I am drawn to different mediums to express various thoughts or narratives-- from ink, wood, paper, and words, to thread and clay. I have grown as an artist to deeply appreciate the unexpected, and enjoy when the practice involves a dialogue between the intentional and the spontaneous.

Melody's work will be up at Stripe MEN for the month of May, her opening reception is Friday May 6th from 5-9pm. 
Visit her website here

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