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Artist Profile: Melinda Crider

The Mysteries in Everyday Experiences

By Heike Hellmann-Brown

From mixed media installations to paintings, photography and clay works, Lake Arrowhead resident, Melinda Crider, has been a staple in the Cherokee art scene for decades. Born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Crider grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. During high school, she moved to the Atlanta area with her family.

Crider has felt compelled to create art for a long time. She attended the Atlanta College of Art, where she studied sculpture and painting. Drawing and painting was where I was the happiest, but when I discovered clay, I liked the immediacy of the medium, the artist notes. A painted, work-in-progress can be left sitting for months. With clay, there is no waiting; it gives an instant 3D-response. She went on to the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center for a two-year pottery assistantship. Clay provides me with a lot of artistic freedom. I now consider it my surface for painting. The process is hands-on, intricate and ever-changing. A raw block of clay takes shape and forms a life of its own, especially in my figurative work. This metamorphosis into lively characters with personality and soul is a wonderful experience.

Criders sculptures are a testimony to the many facets of life: her dreams, her memories, childhood fairy tales and todays experiences. Furthermore, she is intrigued with the human psyche and the variable perceptions of the self. A visit to the Cirque du Soleil, where she saw Chinese acrobats, inspired Crider to create jesters. Currently, she is working on a series of vessels that have a more architectural approach and can be used either for decorative purposes or as functional vases. While Crider may use a photograph or a drawing as a starting point, she works intuitively, letting her medium guide her. The clay speaks to me, and I am willing to learn as I go. Although the journey might take me into another direction than initially anticipated, it can be interesting and stimulating. Once molded, carved and dried, Criders unique creations are fired several times, using underglazes, slips, washes and stains or beeswax until she receives the desired result.

Crider, who also teaches her skills in a private setting, has won several awards for her work. She recently earned a Merit Award in the 2015 Auburn, Alabama Art Associations 17th Annual Juried Art Exhibition.

Creating art is an outlet that allows me to liberate my emotions.  I want my work to evoke a sense of mystery in the viewer, because if there is no mystery, there is nothing to think about. Crider, who is aware that not all onlookers may relate to her pieces, says, I know that my work is not for everybody, and that is just fine. There is a lot of great art out there. I wish each person would find an artpiece that makes him or her happy, even though it may not be a creation of mine.