Polka dot dress, floating tiger

Okay, so Jozi is on the roll-on-spring side of the solstice, but it’s still winter. And it’s still depressing. I mean, I’ve been wearing this knock-off Himalayan hat indoors for days.

Yes, I'm wearing it now.

Robin bought it from a guy at a traffic light. In his infinite wisdom, he went for a pink one. Nothing says ‘knock-off Himalayan hat’ like a pink Himalayan hat.

If you also feel cold and a bit depro-ish, take a look at these artworks by Kreh Mellick, an American artist. Reminding me of illustrations in my childhood story books and just so simple, they make me happy. Take that winter. You too pink Himalayan-wannabe!

The even happier news is that you can see some of Kreh’s works in real life. She is currently part of the Menagerie group exhibition at In Toto Gallery in Birdhaven. I wrote a little bit about Birdhaven here.

Kreh is an American artist and based in the US, but had her first solo exhibition at In Toto. Now she’s back in Joburg. I had to mail her to find out more and she said ‘sure thing’. Thank you, Kreh!

As a kid, Kreh already knew she wanted to be artist. Or a sea captain, which of course, sounds pretty cool too. But luckily, the creative gig won out in the end.

Now for stories about a polka dot dress and a floating tiger...

A polka dot dress

Via email, Kreh mentions that folk art has always inspired her. “I love to see people's hand in the work that they make. I think that is why I really love drawing so much, because you can really have such an honest and immediate interaction with your subject and medium.”

One of the moments, when Kreh knew she wanted to be an artist, was when she saw her mom in a polka dot dress, thinking she looked too beautiful. “I asked if I could draw her portrait. I sat her down in the kitchen and became so angry and frustrated. I could not get the drawing to look or feel the way she felt to me in that dress,” she says.

This challenge and determination feed some of the artistic endeavour, Kreh mentions. “A furious need to convey both a feeling and an image and marry the visual to what the heart was searching for. Perhaps that doesn't sound right, but the moment of that frustration, I know, was the beginning of exploring what it is to be an artist.”

The floating tiger

She’s currently working on an ongoing series with a red motif, which Kreh says she “appropriated” from one of her great-grandmothers’ sketchbooks.

She explains a bit more about the ideas behind this series and her work: “I think this body of work is dealing with the real or unreal. The figures are ghosts or memories that exist in a kind of otherworldly environment. I like to present the viewer with a subject and kind of challenge them to create their own narrative."

Kreh adds that she also tends to find a lot of humour and thoughtfulness in very quiet moments. And appreciates the range of possibility that minimalism provides. “You will see the tiger in Menagerie – it kind of floats in space. I like to imagine that he is quite sullen... but on some other occasions, perhaps he is holding back a guffaw. I would love to always live in that area of possibility.”

Menagerie is on until 28 July 2014. But for more of Kreh, go to her site and click through her cool portfolio. And here’s to floating like Kreh's tiger always in that area of possibility! To see this specific tiger, you'll have to go check out the exhibition.

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