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All the Little Things

  • Chesterton Art Center 115 S. Fourth Street Chesterton, IN United States (map)

Melissa Washburn is the featured artist for the month of August at the Chesterton Art Center. Her solo exhibit titled, "All the Little Things" will hang from August 3 through August 28. The Opening Reception will take place on Sunday, August 11 from 2-4. Melissa is an artist/illustrator/graphic designer living in Valparaiso. She grew up in upstate New York, in the foothills of the Adiondacks, but has lived in the Midwest since 1996. Her fascination with things that run, fly, and grow has led to editorial commissions for publications such as Edible Indy, Charlotte Home & Garden, and Smithsonian Magazine. She continues to exhibit her work throughout Northwest Indiana as well as illustrating and designing for stationery, textiles, advertising, and package design.

Her background includes a BFA in painting and printmaking from Binghamton University, a Masters Degree in Arts Administration from Indiana University, coursework at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and experience as Art Director at advertising firm Group 7even. She was a 2012-2013 receipient of an Individual Artist Program grant from the Indiana Arts Commission, serves on the board of the newly formed Valparaiso Creative Council, and is currently working towards her Indiana Master Naturalist certification.

"The biggest inspiration for my work over the last decade has been the natural world. When I first moved to the Midwest, in 1996, it took me a long time to discover and appreciate the beauty here. I was familiar with the Adirondack Mountains, where everything is tall trees and majestic peaks. Illinois and Indiana are flat horizons and miles of prairie. What I’ve come to realize is that so much of the beauty around us requires slowing down, looking closely, asking questions, and examining things on a much smaller scale. What are the subtle differences in markings that can help differentiate between one butterfly species and another? How are the petals of a compass flower arranged? What are the shapes of the scales on a snake’s snout?

Once I start asking these questions, and understanding the ecological role of every tiny piece of what’s around me, it becomes much easier to be kind to the spider skittering across my kitchen floor and more wondrous by far to get down on my belly and see what’s living in my lawn. In a time of profound ecological crisis, I believe that truly paying attention to All the Little Things, getting to know and understand them, is a way to be more mindful of our own role and impact in this complex, weird, wonderful world.

Many of the pieces in this exhibit started as studies or elements of what would eventually become larger/more complete illustrations, but making these mixed-media pieces (generally in watercoclor, ink, and gouache) is my way of getting to know the life around me. I’ll never name them all, but it’s a joyous process of discovery to at least try."

Guests can see a full view of Melissa's work at "All the Little Things" will hang at the Cheserton Art Center through August 28. The Chesterton Art Center is located at 115 S. 4th St., Chesterton, IN 46304.