Melissa Earley       

I enjoy the process of taking a drawing and transforming it into a painting, a woodcut, and a beaded piece.  Watching the piece evolve as it changes formats is often a learning experience, forcing me to re-examine the image and gradually understand its significance.  Through line and color I discover long-forgotten memories from my childhood or come to recognize aspects of my current psychological state.  In many ways it is similar to determining the meaning of a dream.  What does this line, this image, say about me?  About my relationships?  About my present or my future?

It is only after recognizing such information that I can begin to understand myself and my relationships with others.  It is through this emotional and thoughtful process that epiphanies can emerge, and common threads become clear.  The issues and events depicted in my work are fundamentally human: love and hate, joy and sorrow, grief and healing, fear and understanding.  Thus it is my hope that the works are not as subjective as they at first seem, but that each viewer will recognize something of themselves and our shared human experiences within them.

About the Process
I love the fragmented but orderly look of ancient mosaics, the flat planes and graphics of the German Expressionists, and the shockingly bright colors of the Fauves.  Iím also moved by the otherworldly architecture of Gaudi and the rich golds and colorful, jumbled patterns of Klimt.  Bead weaving offers a way to merge all these loves into my own conglomeration.  Woven together, these tiny little bits of glass (about 285 per square inch) take on a new meaning, a new perception, as they form a larger whole. 

The technique is a traditional Native American stitch and its exercise is rigorous.  Even once the pattern is finished and the colors are chosen, the pieces can take weeks or months to complete. But the process is cathartic and rejuvenating, and as the image starts to take shape I often find myself beading far into the early morning hours, eager to watch the finished item emerge.
Despite the arduous process, I continue bead weaving because the end results are always a surprise and because it satisfies my dual tendencies for both order and chaos. I get to be spontaneous and expressive with pencil and paint first, then meticulously construct the bead pattern to resemble the painting.  Emotion and logic, anarchy and organization, madness and reasonóitís the best of all possible worlds.

Born Neodesha, Kansas, USA, grew up in Charleston, SC.
Currently live and work in Spartanburg, SC.  Married to artist/musician
Ashley Holt.


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