American, 21st century, female.
Active in Portland (Oregon).
Born in Eugene (Oregon).
Collage, drawing, sculpture, video and print artist. Interdisciplinary, with an emphasis on animals, communication, and travel.
Melody Owen received her BA in Photography from the University of Oregon, her MFA in Electronic Integrated Art from Alfred University, and an MA in Environmental Arts in Humanities from Oregon State University in 2018. In addition to her studies, Owen has had the opportunity to complete artist residencies all over the globe, visiting France, Iceland, Switzerland, and Canada.
Many of Owen’s artworks are closely tied to her experiences while travelling, and she often collects mementos from each location and integrates the objects into her art. While completing her Est-Nord-Est residency in Quebec, 8 knot was created by sanding down and interlocking two found snowshoes to resemble an infinity symbol. While some of her works include found objects, other works are based on research around a location and its history, myths, and stories. During her Gil Society residency in Akureiri, Iceland, Owen crafted collages based on myths about changelings, or babies who have been swapped out for fairies. These collages include old magazine images of often blond-haired children with plant-based imagery overlaid on top.
Owen draws inspiration from stories and incorporates them into her artworks as well. In 2011 Owen published a book with Publication Studio titled Looking Glass Book. This publication is a series of hand-cut collages that summarise each chapter of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass, two books that Owen was highly influenced by and read often as a child. While assembling the collages with magazine cutouts Owen discovered that the imagery of the backsides created other associations; the shapes were the same, but the content was different and accidental. These mirror images were placed facing each other in the book to add another layer of meaning.
The most common theme seen in Owen’s work is animals, but more specifically our relationships to and communication with animals. A solo exhibition in 2010 at The Art Gym at Marylhurst University titled So Close to the Glass and Shivering explores these ideas. The exhibition consisted of a variety of works that addressed topics of communication, extinction, and captivity. Love Letter to an Ocean Creature consists of a section of a jungle vine inscribed with a message in Morse code. The viewer is as likely not to understand the message as the Ocean Creature, highlighting a universal inability to communicate and understand one another. Stranded Whale, a large structure made of threatening steel wire and placed on the floor in the shape of a whale, begs the viewer to reflect on the world’s inability to care for and protect the life of animals.
As Owen continues her art practice and expands her knowledge on environmental preservation, she hopes to start a dialogue and find solutions to the environmental issues we experience in the 21st century.
2013, Remembering Is Everything, Alter Space Gallery, San Francisco
2015, Words, Words, Words, Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland
2017, Functionally United, White Box Gallery, Portland
2010, So Close to the Glass and Shivering, Marylhurst University Art Gym, Marylhurst OR
2010, Letters from Switzerland, Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland
2011, Looking Glass Book, Carlos Gallery, University of the South, Sewanee, TN
2015, Everything Is Water, Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland
- Melody Owen, artist’s website; images, exhibitions, resume, news, https://melodyowen.net, (accessed 9 Jan 2018).
- Raymond, Jon: So Close to the Glass and Shivering, exhibition catalogue, The Art Gym, Marylhurst University, Marylhurst (OR), 2008.
- Motley, John: ‘Melody Owen’s Dada-Damaged Collage’, Art Slant, 8 March 2010, https://www.artslant.com/ew/articles/show/14892-melody-owens-dada-damaged-collage.
- Hicks, Bob: ‘Down the rabbit hole: Melody Owen makes a book’, Oregon Artswatch, 13 Jan 2012, http://www.orartswatch.org/down-the-rabbit-hole-melody-owen-makes-a-book/.
- Lettero, Carly: ‘Blurring Boundaries’, interview, Oregon State University, 2017, http://liberalarts.oregonstate.edu/feature-story/blurring-boundaries.