Brenau Presents Georgia Artist Melissa Harshman’s ‘Out-Of-The-Box’ Images

Aug 29, 2011
Rudi Kiefer

Originally published on 1/26/10

Brenau University will present an exhibit of Melissa Harshman’s mixed-media work in the Presidents Galleryat Brenau University on the Gainesville campus from Feb. 2 to March 21, with a reception on Feb. 4 from 6:30 to 8 p. m and an artist talk at 6 p.m. on Feb. 17 in the Presidents Gallery.

Both the exhibit and the lecture are free and open to the public. The Presidents Gallery is on the second floor connecting Simmons Visual Arts Center and Pearce Auditorium, 200 Boulevard. The exhibit will close Feb. 28 – March 7 for spring break.

Harshman, an associate professor in the printmaking department of the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia, finds startling revelations in battered old cookbooks, memo pads, dictionaries, and other scavenged items arranged in unusual combinations.

“Flea markets, yard sales and antique stores provide my image bank,” Harshman said, explaining that she uses a computer scanner to create a database of “recognizable ephemera.”

“I am interested in the different ways the juxtaposition of a variety of these images can be altered in meaning and narration by new combinations and compositions,” she said. “I can quickly and easily move items, play with transparency and scale, as well as color. The final image is then ‘brought out of the box’ via traditional printmaking or painting methods. My goal is to create images that are aesthetically pleasing and conceptually significant, often playing off the meaning of the chosen images.”

Her themes include Jell-O, combined with “images from fashion plates I found at an antique market in Arezzo, Italy;” wordplay, which sent her foraging for old dictionaries; and a series called “Simple Pleasures,” in which the final piece is printed onto thin Japanese paper and adhered to a professionally laser-cut wood substrate.

Harshman has exhibited widely throughout the United States and abroad.

“We are fortunate to have as a nearby neighbor an artist whose work is both aesthetically pleasing and conceptually significant,” said Vanessa Grubbs, director of Brenau University Galleries. “Her work is vibrant with color and unusual in its combinations of texture and materials.”