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Meet Melody Epperson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melody Epperson.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Melody. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
One thing I can say about myself is I am a lifelong learner. I am eternally taking classes, learning new media and figuring out how I can grow and improve. Through the years I have been a photographer, a bass player and songwriter, a modern dancer, a performance artist, a painter, printmaker and ceramicist. If I could afford it, I would be in school for the rest of my life. I gained my love of learning from a lifetime of attending and teaching at Jeffco Open School (JCOS) in Lakewood. JCOS believes that we are all intrinsically curious and capable of lifetime learning. And even though I am no longer at JCOS, I still believe this is true and live my life this way.

Four years ago, I decided I wanted to transition to be a full-time artist. I began to build my skills in business as well as art. It was around this same time I discovered encaustic painting. I fell in love with this challenging and visceral media. I am drawn to the fluid, unpredictable qualities of encaustic painting. The process feeds my curiosity and encourages my creative associations. I enjoy using layers of paint and mixed media because through these layers I can also layer meaning.

As I started investigating what it would take to be a full-time artist, I met with the Creativity Lab in 40 West Arts district and created a business plan which included joining Next Gallery. Before joining Next, I had been in lots of shows, coffee shops, gone to graduate school for an MFA and sold many pieces of art. But the reality of having a solo show every year was completely new. It forced me to prove just how serious I was.

For the last few years, I have been fascinated with feminist art and powerful women. My first two shows at Next Gallery focused on women’s suffrage and emancipation. As the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment approaches, I am creating a series of portraits of women suffragists. These portraits will be featured in my solo show at the Arvada Center April 2020.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Any time you pour your heart and soul into something new, you are bound to encounter struggles. In art one of the struggles I have encountered is self-promotion. I have always been more of a “behind-the-scene” kind of person. It is very difficult for me to promote my artwork without it feeling like it is all about me. As I seek advice about how to break into the art community, some have suggested things that feel very alien and in-authentic to me. My goal is to connect to people through my art. I am positive that there are people out there that will find my artwork meaningful, but how to find those people is a big hurdle.

Social media seems to be the primary way to get artwork in front of an audience these days. Unfortunately, it also has some pretty significant problems associated with it. I would love to find a way to have human conversations about real issues and art, that do not jeopardize our mental wellness and human connection.

Another big question for me is defining success. I think about my motivation for making art constantly. I know that my life philosophy is to make the world better in some way. Therefore, my definition of success is making connections with people through my art and helping them make connections with this amazing world through experiencing my art. That is a pretty hard thing to measure. It doesn’t depend on how many pieces of art I sell, or how many people say good things about my artwork. It does, however, mean getting my art out in the community so people can experience it and have discussions.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
I think what sets me apart from many artists, is my 30 years of teaching young children. It has engrained in me the value of learning and teaching and keeps me curious. Because of my time with children, I value the process of gaining knowledge and understanding, as well as sharing knowledge. That is why one of my motivations for creating art is teaching others and sharing what I have discovered.

My artwork is about making people think in different ways or see things in a new way. It is not completely conceptual, but the concept and the learning are very important. The way that artists think, is what makes them some of the most valuable and brilliant group of people in the world. We need more artists!

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
As I mentioned earlier, defining success is one of my personal struggles. I guess the short answer is; success to me is when my art touches another person in a way so they grow or are stirred to personal action. The only way to know if I am successful is through human contact and communication. Therefore, I strive to have some sort of interchange with the people who purchase and view my art. I guess the other way is to see the result of their personal growth or action.

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Image Credit:
Alex Chernushin, Laurie Gibb, Christy Lynne Seving

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