Family and Friends, by Deb Mell, Burke Gallery, link to images
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       The Plattsburgh State Art Museum is pleased to present Family and Friends, an interpretive exhibition by Deb Mell, opening on Thursday, March 11 and continuing through April 9, 2004. Mell's mixed media, primarily two-dimensional works are visual representations of personal mythologies derived from her collection of "things" and her relationships with friends and family. Her choice of materials includes various found objects, self-made paper, oil paint, beads and wood. For Mell, the physical process of art making is as equally important as the creative aspect.

       Speaking of her works and processes, the artist, Deb Mell, says:

       "I grew up making things. When I was a child, my grandfather taught me how to create whatever I thought of by using whatever I found (from driftwood to broken glass), as material. His rule for constructions, however, was that they had to work; i.e. if I made a boat, it had to float; if I made a plane it had to fly.

       I always enjoyed the process of making things, and find that, even now, the physical aspects of constructing a piece are as important as the creative ones, which is why I make my own paper, and use wood rather than canvas. Like my grandfather, I too am a collector of 'things', which I transform into my personal mythologies.

       Mythology itself has evolved from the cultural underpinnings present in virtually all societies, and different civilizations have relied on the dissemination of myths as a way of 'explaining' the inexplicable, enforcing cultural institutions or relieving societal tensions. Most mythological tales, furthermore, are couched in the spiritual allegories of the societies from which they emanate.

        This, then, is the background I use in my art to build the personal story of my relationships with family, friends and acquaintances. I believe I can use my background, which includes ancestors of Native American Indian heritage, as my personal dictionary. I use the playfulness inherent in most myths and legends as a means of turning personal frustrations and fantasies into artistic portrayals.

        Ultimately, my art explores my relationship with spiritual images - as a writer friend of mine put it, my work is about coaxing the emanation of spirit itself (what the Chinese call chi), from the inanimate; or more simply, to animate the inanimate."

        Deb Mell has exhibited throughout New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Louisiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and in Denmark, and was the recipient of the Dodge Foundation Fellowship for Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in 1999, 2001, and 2003. Her education includes studies at Illinois State University, Brooklyn Museum Art School, and in Garrigues, France. This show offers an exciting and unique statement to the museum's exhibition schedule.
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