Melisa Cadell is interested in the figure and the spiritual being that is represented by it. Melisa works primarily in clay using the human form as an expression of the spiritual being that dwells within it. Her ceramic figures represent people who are changed through life experiences - their struggles, joys and journeys. What is reflected is not what society typically deems beautiful; their beauty is one of dignity, courage and strength. Some of her figures are bird-like and they reflect both the hope for future generations to soar above the failures of today.
Melisa Cadell at MudFire
Gallery group show Potters of the Roan, April 2009
Melisa Cadell Artist Bio
Melisa Cadell owns Cadell Studios, where she works primarily in figurative sculpture. She feels the human form is an expression of presence and a measure of strength within the soul. Her emphasis is on inner beauty and strength that is often obtained through struggle and loss. In her earlier work, the figures often looked as if they were singing. Their song came from finding the importance in the "small simple things." The work was a means of telling a story that shared a common experience. Sometimes the stories were painful, yet there was a sense that one could go on to gain new insight and something to share with the next person who would endure the journey.
The current work is darker and often related to man's inhumanity to man. The figures remain strong, but revealing more frailty and inner devastation. They no longer sing rather they exist in a type of deafening silence. These stories relate to the hopelessness of war and injustice. There are many questions posed in the work wanting to make sense of ones beliefs and motives. The questions posed are not answered by the sculptor. They are instead a request for a dialogue of what are we doing and why.
There was a period of time in Melisa's life where she visited rural communities in the US, St. Kitts, VI and Belize, Central America to participate in mission type work. It affected her at a very impressionable time in her life. She began to question the unfair distribution of power and wealth in these often neglected areas where she witnessed poverty and poor living conditions. She began to see a resilience and determination of people to live on a "day to day" basis with pride and fortitude. She began to look beyond the surface of humanity and became increasingly aware of the inner strength and beauty in the people.
Her educational training and background are in the fine arts with emphasis on drawing and painting. Growing up she worked for years under her father as an apprentice in his bronze foundry. She learned the process of mold making and developed an appreciation for the sculptural form. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in All Level Art Education and in Drawing and Painting at the University of North Texas, Denton, TX. While at university she was able to travel abroad with Rob Erdle and study drawing and watercolor in France, Switzerland and Italy. Her fascination with the human form became increasingly evident as she strove for a complex simplicity in her style and intent. She continued working as a mark-maker and painter for ten years, experimenting with indirect painting techniques on large stainless steel plates.
After teaching for seven years in the public education system as an elementary art teacher, she took a step into the crafts' movement. She began taking private lessons in clay. Within the year she began classes at Brookhaven Community College, Dallas, TX. Her focus was in the functional tradition, learning functional boundaries. As a crafter, she moved to North Carolina, where there were numerous opportunities. She started a business with her husband at that time and started her own business four years later. Through the course of a divorce and her desire to have her own voice, she began working as a sculptor. Her work continues to evolve as does her life. She and her husband Mark Wessinger found that everything in their lives changed with the birth of their children Benjamin and Ana Jewel.
She and Mark have for the most part enjoyed the challenges of being older parents. Both work to make time for the important things, such as the miracles of daily life with young children. When not in the studio, Melisa continues as a volunteer in the Bakersville Volunteer Fire Department as a firefighter, rescue member and EMT. She continues to teach workshops in drawing, painting and clay. Her goals have remained focused on her family being a community member, and to be a responsible record keeper of the world around her.
Melisa Cadell Artist Statement
Images of war . . . is a body of work that I have been focusing on for several years. These works are about universal loss. I am not offering answers in the work, but observing the devastation of war. It seems like a helpless place. A witness to the atrocities, I can not turn away. I fear I would lose my humanity if I closed my eyes to it.
Many have difficulty understanding this new work. I am not sure that I do. How do I go about my work in which I make frivolous objects while others suffer? The only way I can justify my work is to keep careful records of the stories of real individuals. Their names and their places are less important than their courage to stand in the face of fear. They triumph in the streets where they walk, in the markets where they shop and the refugee camps where they rear their children. I have chosen, not out of valor, but necessity to make work that is a testament to the stories of those who have endured hatred. Their courage to speak out against injustice is something I can only strive toward.
Life has become more dear to me since the birth of our children. I realize that there is something more precious than my own life and I shudder to think what parents in these war torn regions must face. We all have experienced some type of loss in this journey. We all know how that feels. How can we continue to see others who are different from us and not believe in the depths of our being that they too experience life with a passage of faith, conviction, joy and sorrow?