Ep 55: Environmental artist John Melvin on consumerism, questioning the rules & his ‘textured’ past
This episode is a part of a mini-season titled, “Sustainability is a Buzzword”. A series of conversations about conservation, water, agriculture, creativity, and everyday life. They took place in Paonia, CO as part of an artist-in-residence program at the ever-magical Elsewhere Studios.
John K. Melvin is an international artist nurturing community dialog around the intersection of art, nature, and community. He typically up-cycles materials that have passed their traditional use. He has created public art exhibitions for over 14 years and has become increasingly involved with works that highlight ecological concerns and the interconnectedness of systems.
He’s worked with organizations on large-scale public art sculptures, such as the New York Council on the Arts, the Chenven Foundation, Arte Fits Foundation in Puerto Rico, the Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexico, and many more.
I had the pleasure of being a fellow resident at Elsewhere Studios with John and seeing his beautiful work and incredible process in person. He has a fascinating life story, which we dig into in this episode, as well as consumerism, art’s role in our lives (the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly), history, changing one’s process, and more. Listen above or on iTunes or Spotify.
In this episode, we talk about:
- when he finally gave in to his calling as an artist
- how his textured past has led to an interesting journey
- growing up in the 80s in Oakland among a group of kids forgotten
- how his visual vocabulary was developed between 5 and 10 years old
- what the art world has in common with crime culture
- smuggling and canvas
- how and why he went from studio practice to the residency circuit
- realizing he was a part of the “peek stuff” problem in consumer culture
- the role art plays in all of our everyday lives
- the artist’s role in gentrification
- the importance of questioning the rules
- taking commodity out of art by making it public
- how history is bound to repeat itself
- being patient with the process
- getting over rejection slumps
- making a change when something isn’t working
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- John’s website
- John on Instagram
- Elsewhere Studios in Paonia, CO
- The Inspired at Work program
- Momo by Michael Ende
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