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Meet Melissa Furness

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melissa Furness.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I am originally from Iowa and was pretty much always compelled to move beyond where I came from in order to work towards being an artist. It wasn’t easy, for certain! I didn’t have any connections and grew up in a working-class environment. It was really just the creative expression through my work that was the strength in getting me to where I am now, along with the strong work ethic that my upbringing in Iowa gave me. Following undergrad, I moved to the Bay Area of California for a year after being awarded a fellowship doing lithography at the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley. I then went to graduate school where I became more of a painter and installation artist with a diversity of skills. Since then, it has been my experiences of travel through artist residencies, fellowships and teaching abroad that have fueled the strain of creative work that I have come to today. These have included time spent in Budapest, Hungary; Gdansk, Poland; Kilkenny County, Ireland; throughout Italy; Beijing, China; Mexico City; New York; and California. I have always had this drive to experience more in the world and embraced the discovery that I found in making myself something of a fish out of water… finding discovery in experiences that put me out of my comfort zone.

Has it been a smooth road?
I don’t think it has ever been “smooth,” really. The sense of struggle is something that I quickly learned to embrace. I use this notion of struggle in my work, actually. It is about the idea of ruin, personal ruin (private experience) versus public ruin (erosion of place). As I mentioned, I come from a working class family. I have had to build my skills and connections gradually over time with many moments of hardship, such as putting my artist residency trip to Hungary on a credit card and hoping for the best, and struggling through a complex marriage that left me as a single mom with depleted resources, along with a good number of other things. I have learned from each one of them, no doubt. I have been lucky to have my creative work to help me through, and have found that it is the one thing in my life that I can rely on, as it is something that only I make. I choose to make the work in the way that I do with my a certain vision in mind, whereas other things in life are dependent upon other factors.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with your work – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I am a visual artist. I don’t own a specific business or company, but I do have a gallery that represents my work here in Denver–K Contemporary Art. I am most known as a painter, though I also do installation, sculpture, video, printmaking, drawing, and collage. I am also an educator, and teach at the University of Colorado Denver. I suppose I am proud of what I do to help others as a teacher and what I inspire in others that view my creative work. I would say that it is my creative ideas that set me apart from others, certainly. I produce work that is driven by culture, history, and process melded together with contemporary perceptions and a questioning of the past in light of present circumstances.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I like that Denver is a large metropolitan hub where I can feel like I am in the city, but that at the same time is comfortable and manageable, and personal. Least? I would say the high cost of housing, for sure.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Artwork photos taken by Wes Magyar, WM Artist Services.

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