Discovery Series: Interview with Melissa Murray
Rhoni Blankenhorn for COMPANY
(January 15, 2012) Melissa Murray is an emerging artist, living and working in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Deeply inspired by psychoanalytics, her drawings are derived from the extensive logging of her dreams and sub-conscious experiences. The unusual combinations of imagery she uses certainly render her work remeniscent of dreams and thought processes. Melissa has been featured in The Village Voice, Juxtapoz Magazine and L Magazine and has recently concluded her solo exhibition at Causey Contemporary in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She is presently working on a new series of works which consist of drawings within drawings, set on the walls of a deteriorating 18th century steam captains home, and three of her Limited Edition prints are available on our website.
COMPANY: What’s your story? How did you decide to become an artist?
Melissa: My story is a difficult one... I've always relied on creative outlets to get through hard times, even from a very young age. In almost all cases an emotional translation into art was a way to overcome obstacles, a practice I still rely on everyday. For me, making art is not an enjoyable pastime, it's a battle. Trying to find the right expression of images to make the final piece, one that I feel is finished and am satisfied with, is a staggering journey. In the end a completed piece makes my world move forward. I never made the decision to become an artist, but it's a lifestyle I'd be lost without.
COMPANY: What are your current obsessions?
Melissa: Antique wooden chairs, warm bourbon drinks, Japanese literature and ancient New England summer houses in the cold winter months.
COMPANY: How do you start a new work?
Melissa: I hang a large, blank piece of paper and stare at it for quite some time. I like to realize the space for a while, then make light sketches based on stream of conscious thoughts and let the piece unravel from there.
COMPANY: Favorite artists?
Melissa: Andrew Wyeth, James Audubon, Robert Longo, Jenny Saville, Hans Hofmann
COMPANY: Can you describe your process?
Melissa: It's all based on stream of conscious meanderings. I really don't plan my work in advance. An obsessively organized and well-stocked studio is the only constant process I can rely on.
COMPANY: Are there running themes in your work?
Melissa: I try to create a strong narrative in each piece, so there is continuity there. But, I don't continue a theme in the sense of relating my drawings to one specific message. I do enjoy using similar characters to tell stories; animals, decaying architecture, natural elements and making the useable nonfunctional.
COMPANY: How do you relate with your collectors?
Melissa: My most fulfilling relationships with my collectors are the ones in which I'm able to have a personal connection with through my work. I strive for my work to be emotional and that plays well in relating with an audience, as some are able to discover a personal narrative. When a collector decides to make one of my drawings their own, I look forward to conversing about the piece and finding a common ground of interests and experiences.
COMPANY: How do you think the Brooklyn art scene compares to the rest of NYC?
Melissa: I find an unparalleled honesty in Brooklyn. For better or worse, people are doing their own thing, buildings are left to fall apart in their own due time and palaces can be built in the privacy of desolate streets. It's bubbling with cultural and creative energy and it's all raw. I feel people come to Brooklyn to live with their ideals and if your quest is art you become a part of a impassioned, creative, collective consciousness. I think that is why Brooklyn is on the map.
COMPANY: First thing you do when you get to the studio?
Melissa: Open the curtains and turn on some tunes.
COMPANY: Person you’d want to collaborate with on a project?
Melissa: Hieronymus Bosch, Syd Barrett or Kobo Abe
COMPANY: What are you working on now?
Melissa: Im working on a new series of drawings based on an 18th century house by the sea in New England. I'm using the structure as a set to explore my interests in the passing of time in a still image. The walls of the house become a surface in which to tell a story, speaking to the physical objects in the room space itself. By continuing to incorporate animals and surreal landscapes, my new work is becoming more about a single, definitive space that many moments occupy at once.
COMPANY: Any other interests? Pets? Hobbies?
Melissa: Blue and Journey, my 2 muses, strays dogs off the mean streets of Brookyn. They are always with me and never cease to inspire me. I'm forever renovating my 1910 home in Bushwick and recreating original details has become a bit of a hobby. When I'm not in the studio or working on my house, I cook elaborate meals, perfect a whisky cocktail, hike the nature preserves in Brooklyn and Queens and attempt to satiate my voracious appetite for new music.