Melissa Gericke

INTERVIEW PART III

It seems, except in exceptional instances (the Phone Sex Valentine), you avoid tapping into the who’s who and what’s what of pop culture. Are there pitfalls of meaning in pop, or is it all just too artificial to reference? Your thoughts…

Yeah, I don’t know, it doesn’t interest me really. I feel out of the loop with all that stuff, so it’s hard for me to involve it in anything I create because I’m not a part of it. Maybe if I were surrounded by it more it would appear somehow.

How successful have you been in giving your work exposure? Do you find that your images are compelling to a broad audience or a small community? Any hopes in the future for gallery shows?

Not really at all. I tried and I have had a couple shows in the past but they weren’t “successful” and no one really knew about them. I keep trying but I could be doing a better job I guess. I couldn’t really say who’s interested and who’s not. Some of my close friends ask questions, or respond to it, and that makes it seem to me like they’re interested. My family gets offended usually, so uh I guess people react, some people care, some people judge, and some people just sort of ignore the images. I am hoping for an upcoming show, I just applied to a couple galleries in my area, but no one has responded yet. So we will see.

Have you collaborated with anyone else? Was there any collaborative experience you greatly enjoyed? What happened?

Yeah, a couple people only so far, close friends or strangers. There was one collaboration that I really enjoyed with an ex boyfriend, we did a lot of different things. He was very talented and respected my part in it, so I felt like whatever came out of it was pure and true. We really did some beautiful things. Paintings, drawings, structural things, and video. It was solid. I also did some collaboration with Bill Porter who sometimes uses dots/circles to create these double sided, sometimes holographic images. That was fun for me because our art was so distant from each other, so I had some challenges with approaching it, but in the end I thought they turned out nice.  If I’m a part of a collaborative work it’s usually a mixed media kind of thing. They can be lots of fun though because you’re merging two different perspectives. Never turn out to be what you expect usually.

What are your spiritual thoughts about the practicing of art?

There are so many ways I could answer this. For me I get in my zone, almost like an altered consciousness type deal because I’m so emerged. Its paradoxical because I am so concentrated that I become shaky and lose myself in what I am doing. I think it can be refreshing, bring you to a point of explosion, allow you to transfer things that aren’t always surfaced. I think performance art to me is by far the most spiritual thing I can relate to in the “art world”. An ex-bf introduced me to it, and honestly I think the greatest catharsis can happen with that approach. I’ve witnessed so many people performing and have completely felt every aspect of what they were doing. It’s so beautiful. I used to be friends with someone a long time ago who used to DJ and freestyle. Sometimes he would do this free form talk and start speaking in other languages. I mean he was really tapping into some crazy shit there. Any form of art that you can let go of yourself in is spiritual to me. If you can find something to lose yourself completely in, some things can form that will surprise you and allow you to experience yourself at full capacity.

Would you say there’s a central or primary purpose to your art? How do you think/feel you make that happen?

I don’t know how much purpose it has outside of myself, but the longer I continue to create things the more ideas I get that I think can be explosive to a community. I think I just need to keep pushing and see what happens from there.

What outside of art or your materials elicits inspiration?

Inspiration is silly. I don’t know how to answer this. Anything that can ignite something within me I guess you could say inspires me, and that could fall into anything and everything depending on how I’m perceiving things at that moment.

INTERVIEW PART II

What’s your thought about the symbolism of the moon? I see the moon’s image distinctly shows its face in a few titled pieces: Falling Into A Point, The Oath, and Finding The Origin.

Depending on the context the moon could represent so many things for me. On a physical level it aligns with my menstruation cycle which is pretty beautiful to me because a lot of times I see the moon as a symbol of the feminine path towards Truth. Underneath it is a constant reminder that I can be swallowed by the night, this never leaves me, and throughout my whole life I will be pushing through dark moments. Other times I see it as being a link to the Divine. So, really it all depends.

 

What purpose does a title serve for you? Is there a usual way you come to consider a title?

Sometimes after I look at it I just impulsively give it a title based on my first instinct, but I can’t even remember what they are now. I’ll usually just forget the connection I made with words and image because my minds so flighty. I just did numbered notations recently as a convenience for other people.

 

Do you keep on hand collections of images stored for future use, or does each collage form out of an immediate selection?

A lot of the images are sectioned out. I have a couple of bins that are filled with cutouts. Sometimes I’ll sift through them because they contain images that have caught my attention at some point. The most important images to me are usually on my desk or taped on my wall. They have more urgency. But some days I don’t want any of it and start the search again.

 

Where do find your images?

Everywhere really. A lot of science books, national geographic, medical books, doll magazines, porno magazines, cookbooks, gardening books, etc. Sometimes I pay attention to the publishing dates because the images change through time, and how the images are printed change too giving it a different texture.

 

Do you think humor plays a meaningful role in your work? If so, how would you describe it?

Immediately I would say no, but that one image of the guy with three arms holding his penis up by a rope is satirical to me. It’s sort of emasculating, which I thought was funny at the time considering what I was going through emotionally. If the images contain humor, most likely it’s going to be a criticism that is exposing someone or an idea.

 

Moths, honeycombs, butterflies, doll’s heads, hordes of insects, snakes – these forms recur often. As with the moon question, do they have essential symbolic meanings for you?

I can’t say that there is a set meaning to any of these things because then it would mean that it all ends somewhere and I don’t like to think that way. Nothing is really “set in”, so it is all usually based in it’s own context. I definitely feel like a lot of those images have archetypal meaning, and hit a cord in me like they would with anyone else. Moths and butterflies seem pretty obvious. The dolls are just so sweet. I like them because when I was little all my dolls were on the shelf, untouched, and they just sat and observed everything. They were really quiet but I felt like they had everything/everyone mapped out. They are like little spies. The hordes of insects are just for effect. Snakes are so sacred. Symbolically they are on another level for me. People judge the snake; like “oh that’s bad, stay away” same thing with Magick and anything occult like. But that’s the beauty in it, snakes are scary to a lot of people, so the ones that really know their importance will stay around and disregard the illusion surrounding it. The honeycomb became important to me when I heard a song where the artist says, “Then I’m, octa-gone in the wind with the pollen” and I made an association between the physical and spiritual connection honeycomb holds. Once I make a connection on a macrocosm/microcosm level the image has more strength and I will use the symbol more often because the meaning has surfaced, it’s not as cryptic as it once was.

 

And, while we’re at it with the concept of symbolism, would you say there is universal code between cultures’ use of symbols? Are you tapping into that spectrum?

I would say I am, to the best of my ability anyway. There’s still so much that I don’t know or understand. Sometimes I do think there’s a constant symbolism that reoccurs through a lot of cultures. A couple years ago I really attempted to make correlations across religions and certain symbols they used, to see if there was a pattern. It continues to be an ongoing process. To me there are primordial things that trigger everyone, but what/where/why/how/and to what extent depends on the culture or individual I guess.

INTERVIEW PART I

When did you start creating collage art? Were there any artists whose work prompted you to make them? And, on that note, do you identify with any eras of art movements beyond your contemporary one?

I think I may have made my first collage in high school, but I can’t remember what it was. I just remember from then on making them as gifts for people. Later on I made a piece that was sort of the jumping off point, things just spun off from there. It was meant to capture the Trinity. It was vibrant in color and aggressive looking. To this day I still view it as the piece that brought all the ones to follow.

I can’t remember thinking that someone else’s work prompted me. As things go on there are a lot of artists who I identified with, Hannah Hoch, Max Ernst, Hans Bellmer, Salvador Dali. I relate a lot to the Dada movement and Surrealism in both ideas and visual tendencies, and can indulge and gain momentum from any Religious or Occult art.

Does your community or location inform you about your work? Do you find that your occupation as a caregiver has a salient relationship to your style?

I don’t understand the first question. I mean I guess in a way my job has some influence because its an experience I have on a daily basis, so it’s bound to sink in. But I wouldn’t consider it as playing a central role in my collage art. It does show up in my drawings sometimes though.

Generally, how does a piece come together? Is it an act of intuition, that is, an instinctive operation, or do impressions and ideas culminate together from a preconceived notion? Do you have a particular time and place when you work?

I was trying to come to conclusions about this for a really long time. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered everything I make was usually just regurgitation. Like, if you give a baby milk and burp them and they spew out that spittle, that’s how my art works. I take in loads of information constantly making it difficult to process anything, that in itself is a constant CULMINATION and it’s through the collage art that a lot of things get put into place. Like a BINGE and PURGE reaction. Each piece comes together how I see fit, how I react to it is how I make a decision. But, something changed the other week and I randomly thought of a specific concept. That’s only ever happened either during the process or after, never before. It was so natural how it rapidly entered in.

Not really, I do it all times of the day, but I like it most when I have time to lose myself in it, because then there’s no pressure, no end, the time/future time is dedicated to purely making things. I always have a space that’s dedicated to making art because everything is out in the open.

I see that you studied neuroscience and religion. Do these lines of education inform your aesthetic and the choices that you make?

It’s just a part of my self-knowledge that I gain through any other discipline I learn about. The religious aspect is obviously relevant in a lot of my pieces, and that’s because I admire it so much. There’s so much symbolism there and it captures me FULLY, so naturally it flows into my art. But, learning about those things specifically had led me to see a lot of correspondences, how things can relate even if they’re viewed on opposite ends of a spectrum.

Many of your pieces have their dominant form centered in the middle. Can you tell me about that kind of formal choice? Is it a kind of iconography or cryptic portraiture?

It just sort of happens that way. The entire thing is a mess of relating symbols together, so I like for there to be a main source, and then all the details kind of just disperse throughout, adorning the central image.

Do you have any obsessions that find form in your work? What are your ideas about beauty?

To be honest this question really bothers me because I don’t know how to answer but I’m just gonna wing it, and a year from now I’ll probably think differently because things change. I don’t have any obsessions that I’m aware of. I find something beautiful if it’s shows resistance. If I saw a pile of shit on the street I don’t know if I would think it was beautiful, but if it was splattered on a toilet I might, there’s a certain vitality there that I’m attracted to. There’s a literal sense of an eruption, two things colliding. I love opposition, and putting inconsistent elements together makes a lot of sense to me. It contains both extremes in one. A contradiction that is Absolute.

Who is your ideal audience? Do you have any long-term purposes for your art?

I wouldn’t say I have an ideal audience, I’d like for anyone to see them because it could spark a reaction. Sometimes it’s nice though when someone who contains a sense of esoteric knowledge sees it, and you both know how much strength the image holds. I like sharing that silent reaction with other people. I just keep pushing through the Process, things come to my mind and I try to carry it out. I’d like to collaborate more with people I know or don’t know, see what turns up. But, right now I’m working on this one set of images and starting a short film with my friend Char. I can’t really say what’s going to happen beyond that.