MELISSA PARHM | Artist Statement
Upturned Roots, Silverpoint and Graphite on Prepared Panels, 2018-2019
The silverpoint drawings are inspired by our trees and the elements of water and fire. My artistic process involves extended periods of observation as a practice of honoring the elements. My current work reflects the California droughts and fires.
Luminosity and unseen communication drive my artistic process. The elements—earth, air, fire, water, and space-—are my muses. I create from a place of stillness and allow my work to develop organically. My recent project depicts the upturned roots of a tree in Kenwood, California. I have been drawn to this tree for years. After the 2017 Sonoma and Napa County fires, I searched to see if this tree was still intact as it lay. I felt it calling me to pay attention to it. I saw the universe contained in this tree. In the winter of 2018, I began preparations and commissioned a carpenter to cut 16 wooden panels. The intention and work of preparing a panel is as important as drawing in my art making. I chose to work in graphite and silverpoint. The panels are very luminous, I have built up many layers of ground, and thus the light is able to bounce through them, this interplay with the silver that is on the surface of the panel creates the illusion of a three dimensional, sculptural effect. The sun’s rays shifting on the panel’s surface results in an image that is ever-changing. New forms emerge and dissolve. Working in silverpoint connects me to the lineage of artists I am influenced by, such as Leonardo Da Vinci. Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, Jan Van Eyck, and Albrecht Durer worked in silverpoint in the ages before graphite was discovered and mined. Silver is sustainable. In my creative process, slowing down, flexibility and being open to present experience is key.