IDENTITY- A Visual Artifact: Melissa Cooke


As of January 2016, KDR has joined its affiliate PROGRAPHICA Gallery in Seattle, WA, where Eleana Del Rio and Norman Lundin will curate exhibitions jointly as well as independently within its new enitity: Prographica / KDR.

Koplin Del Rio (formerly of Culver City, CA) is pleased to present its debut exhibition in Seattle: IDENTITY- A Visual Artifact features gallery artists: Sandow Birk, Melissa Cooke, Einar & Jamex de la Torre, Laurie Hogin, Zhi Lin, Kerry James Marshall and Robert Pruitt, curated by Eleana Del Rio.

IDENTITY- A Visual Artifact is the first of a series of three exhibitions, each featuring a select group of long-time Koplin Del Rio (KDR) gallery artists. As KDR transitions its footprint to the Pacific Northwest, the exhibitions will unveil the gallery’s distinct identity and unique visual program through the artists it represents. These artists produce work that taps into the pulse of our current point in history in order to examine identity on multiple levels—self, community and nation.

Artist Interview #40 Melissa Cooke


Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, 2011, Artist in Residence

1. What is your ideal working environment?

I love working at an in-home studio. I currently work from our second bedroom; it is so convenient and comfortable! The ground is covered with anti-fatigue flooring to protect the wood from my graphite, and my feet from getting tired.

2. Is there a specific motivator in getting you into the studio?

I work best in the afternoon. I usually grab a cup of coffee, put on some music or a podcast, and get to work conquering deadlines and goals.

3. What is your preferred medium? Do you work on one project at a time or several?

My favorite medium is powdered graphite. My drawings are made by dusting thin layers of graphite onto paper with a dry brush. The softness of the graphite provides a smooth surface that can be augmented by erasing in details and textures. No pencils are used in the work, allowing the surface to glow without the shine of heavy pencil marks. Illusion dissolves into brush work and the honesty of the material.

4. Is there anything you would like to share as personal interests outside of the studio – outdoor activity, cooking, reading, museum/gallery hopping?

Here are a few of my favorites:

Visiting museums and galleries, and connecting with other artists and creatives
Growing veggies in my garden
Biking and running on trails
Swimming and/or floating in lakes
Drinking local craft beers, preferably on a sunny day on an outdoor patio

5. In what way is your work a reflection of this point in history?

My most recent series, “No Place Like Home” fuses elements of realism with the language of contemporary art and street culture. Fragments of paper and posters are depicted, referencing the flatness of drawing, while simultaneously alluding to the history of realism and tromp l’oeil. The works explore the language of drawing by superimposing traditional portraiture with a wide variety of seemingly spontaneous and ephemeral-style marks. Suggestions of spray paint, stencils, and drips are illustrated in the drawings. Illusionistic representation of graffiti dissolves into my brush work and the materiality of graphite.

6. With the examples of your work represented in IDENTITY: A Visual Artifact, are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight into your artist vision to a new viewer?

“Eyes” was inspired by scenes I found in my daily life while walking the streets of Brooklyn. It draws from marks people have left on the city: discarded objects, wheatpaste posters, and graffiti. In the ever changing, gritty landscape of New York, one moment in time is captured. Like a collaboration with the city, my voice joins the layered conversation of street art and culture.