We had the good fortune of connecting with Melissa Turner Drumm and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melissa, how do you think about risk?
Risk taking is the most thrilling part of being an Artist. Learning new processes and new materials and finding out along the way how to make something into what you have drawn out and envisioned has led to a lifetime of enjoyment. Thrill seeking and risk go hand in hand. I have loved learning how to weld and use a blow torch, using various chemicals for etching, engraving and printing. Most recently creating wax molds, pouring bronze and concrete molds. The exciting part comes when there is a possibility it will work out and not completely burn, meld or fall apart. Having a personality that seeks change and pushing limits is part of being a risk taker. There are a lot of risks taken in my head working out problems and solutions sometimes before I even get to the proverbial drawing board. Growing up in an academic family there was a notion that no idea is too small or large and there was never anything to lose by experimenting and dreaming big. It’s easy from an idealistic Ivory Tower. The work is the translation to reality. There have been many mishaps and attempts with loss of many materials and time. However, I have never considered it a waste of time or effort because each piece is an accumulation of knowledge for the next piece. One down side is that this love of experimentation does cut down on annual productivity for shows and acquisitions. The truest part of being an Artist is continuing to strive to make individual expressions of work. The fortitude to continue to work is the greatest risk and the enjoyment is found all along the way.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
It’s not always been easy in terms of balancing raising a family and time for my own work. I think working regularly and consistently provides the easiest way to tap into settling into working. Also, making calls, emails and visits part of your work is essential. It is hard to balance making the work, writing essays and grants and having studio visits and discussing work. It is ideal to make the work, have it picked up at the door and the money is delivered. This occasionally happens and it is wonderful. But, part of my growth has been becoming comfortable discussing my work and attending openings and meeting new people. It is difficult to put yourself out there in terms of judgment of your talent. But, it is part of the deal. I think the part I would most like to share is if you have a calling to be an Artist – jump at the chance. I do think that it chooses you and you don’t chose it is true. It is an unchartered path and each one is different so you can tailor make it to your life and lifestyle. The most exciting part is a sense of accomplishment each time a new work is completed. I try to accomplish something daily, even if it is getting things out of the way in order to get into some creative endeavor. For many years, travel and leading a creative life fed me more than anything else. Now times are changing so rapidly that it will be curious to see the reflection in new work.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Outdoor sculpture venues and parks are a great way to get a sense of a city and it’s natural terrain. Local, regional and authentic restaurants from countries around the world are another great indication of what is available and to be enjoyed. Live music, and riding around and seeing examples of Architecture from various periods is also a great way to show someone around.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My credit would have to go to my husband, Lloyd. He has lived with so many different projects, chemicals and been my best sounding board. He has increased our home insurance and made me promise to weld only outside and been a constant reality source. Lloyd has attended some pretty “colorful” events over many years and served as the voice of reason. We joke that he is the character that has the courage to speak up to the Emperor that he is not wearing any clothes. It’s good to have a sounding board that you know you can rely on for honest, thoughtful feedback.