BY CARL SANDBURG
Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work—
I am the grass; I cover all.
And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?
I am the grass.
Let me work.
In her most recent series of artwork, Melanie Vote depicts and reproduces parts of an real-life aging washhouse (an outbuilding for which people once used to wash their belongings) in rural Iowa at near life size. Bathed in the warm glowing light of summer evenings, the green shadows, created by the surrounding orchestra of plant life, animate the peeling surfaces of the doors and windows.
The structure stands as a monolithic testament of time enveloped in the natural world. Vote is compelled to paint pieces of the dilapidated building rather than its whole, as to depict them as artifacts or extracted fragments of history. The dissected parts of the building are installed alongside its skeletal framework in three dimensions.
Additionally, the paintings and objects serve as evidence of human life remaining within the landscape. She and her artwork asks questions of who lived here, what has become of them, and what mark have they left behind?
In this series, Vote derives inspiration from the poem Grass by Carl Sandburg. It speaks of the human urge for progress at-all-costs, juxtaposed the intense prowess of the natural world. Summarily, the project investigates and invents a quiet yet stirring history of a seemingly banal place.
Melanie Vote, is a painter/multimedia artist originating from Iowa; upon completion of a BFA from Iowa State she moved east to study painting at The New York Academy of Art, receiving her MFA in 1998. Her work has been exhibited nation-wide and internationally--in New York at Flowers Gallery, The Lodge Gallery, Sloan Fine Art and DFN Gallery, the latter hosting her first solo exhibition in 2008. Additionally, her work has been shown at the Indiana Contemporary Art Center, Jenkins-Johnson Gallery of CA, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, The Hangaram Art Museum in Seoul, South Korea, and at ADAH, Abu Dhabi while an artist in residence there. Most recent solo exhibitions have been at Galleria Farina in Miami and Hionas Gallery of New York.
She was a recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2006 and has been awarded numerous artist residencies including Jentel in Banner, Wyoming, KHNC for the Arts in Nebraska and the Vermont Studio Center with a full fellowship from the Dodge Foundation in 2003. In June 2017 she was an artist in residence in The Grand Canyon. In addition to her studio practice, Vote teaches at Parsons The New School, The New York Academy, NJCU and has also taught at Pratt Institute. Additionally, she has been a visiting artist at numerous schools including the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art.
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