Moments with Modigliani - Mel Cearley

Creel-Harison Community Gallery

About the Artist, Mel Cearley

Born into a family of artists, Mel could be found car keys in hand taking herself to the Kimbell Museum of Art in Fort Worth, Texas to pour over art. A declared Art History major at Texas Christian University, Mel’s desire to be formally taught in art was cut short by unforeseen life circumstances. She continued to stay near and dear to art, sharing her love and passion through teaching classes and workshops at the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art in Augusta, Georgia in her late 20’s. After starting a family, she used her artistic inclinations in every classroom and school her children attended. Designing gardens with fellow artists, organizing crafts and projects and painting set designs just to name a few. In February 2020, she made a commitment and life adjustment to creating art full-time. Several of her works have been exhibited and purchased in the Augusta, Georgia area as well as chosen for juried shows in Virginia and North Carolina to date. With freedom and joy in creating as her methodology, her current work uses deconstructed books, papers, and vintage ephemera to bring together intuitive and thoughtful historic collages. The delicate nature and texture-rich material dating from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s make these collages rare and one of a kind, preserving bits and pieces from individual lives and history, leaving the viewer to decide which part of that history is real or imagined.

Moments with Modigliani

Out of death comes life. Always has. Always will... And in 2020 many of us experienced death in lots of ways, maybe perhaps for the first time. And as a result, many of us also experienced life in the form of change, new perspectives or situations. This was true for me as well. In February 2020 I embarked on the journey of saying “yes” to creating art full-time (as much as possible). As soon as I did, I found myself at a local estate sale of a friend after her father’s passing. Her parents - avid art collectors, community supporters. As I walked through their historic Summerville home, a “spirit of art”, for lack of a better description, guided me through and illuminated various books, papers, colors and ephemera. It’s as if I was being shown what to choose. Later I would realize I was being shown Modigliani's palette. Using these materials and a newfound uncontainable excitement, a series of collage work began. I had no idea what I was doing or what I was making or why I was making it, nor how it would all fit together until the very end. Modigliani was an artist I was unfamiliar with. I poured over his work, his colors and figures and as I did, I was taken into a deeper journey of personal reflection and growth. These faces… ghostlike, empty, some very painful, seemed to speak from the shadows of my own life, but at the very same time reflect the very dismal situation humanity found itself in 2020-2021. An exploration of his palate and his purpose was brought forth using books, cardboard, paper, paint and every ounce of material found from that estate sale that day…sometimes literally sweeping scraps from the floor at the end of the day to make sure every bit was used. A two year journey, off and on again, the last collage and final culmination of all of the education I had received from Modigliani came together in a 36 x 36 work completed June 22,2022. 2 years, 4 months. It is my hope that as viewers look at these very humble beginnings of a journey, they will see what I came to see…  1)Art IS a journey available to everyone  2)You must take the first step  3)As you are faithful to keep stepping forward, things will unfold in your life and in your work that you could never anticipate. And 4) absolutely the most wonderful displays of life and encouragement will be along the way. - Melissa "Mel" Cearley

Moments with Modigliani, Creel-Harison Community Gallery, on view January 6 - March 24, 2023

Friday, January 6, 2023 - 6:00pm to Friday, March 24, 2023 - 5:00pm
Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art