ceramics | modernhistoryclayworks.com
Melissa Black Reddick is a ceramic artist living and working in Davidson, North Carolina. After earning degrees in Fine Arts and Museum Education, Reddick spent years crafting utilitarian vessels which were featured in galleries and collections throughout the United States and abroad.
Her art took a very different turn when several boxes of family papers spanning generations, came to her following the death of her aunt. After weeks spent immersed in their yellowed contents, she knew the boxes held not only fragmented memories of the past but also the clear vision into her future as an artist. Reddick became fascinated by the moments in time captured in the haphazard collection of documents that varied in importance and formality. Scribbled grocery lists, worn diaries, green stamps, wadded trolley tickets, carefully written lists of guests attending family funerals and weddings, report cards, ancient deeds of land and a young soldier's love letters each seemed to whisper a tiny part of a larger story.
Captivating photographs of the people who had come before added inspiration through visual references to clothing and scenery as well as the nuances of facial expression, body language, and their special designation as photo worthy moments. She knew she had to pursue this direction within her art and launched on a journey to discover the techniques that would eventually allow her to create an entirely new body of work. After more than two years of long days spent in the studio, technical trial and error and artistic introspection, Reddick founded Modern History Clay Works and created a series that strives to celebrate, both physically and conceptually, the essence of life past and present.
Through a combination of techniques in ceramics, photography, printmaking and assemblage, Reddick sculpts unique works of art which bear textures and images particular to her own experience and the experiences of those who commission her work. Her sculptural pieces often feature historic and contemporary photographs which she prints into slabs of wet clay bearing textural impressions.
Relics washed up on North Carolina beaches, architectural artifacts, antique kitchen tools, and bits of ancient hand sewn tatting combined with the screened photographs to texturally embellish the living surface of these dynamic pieces which capture yesterday in the art of tomorrow.