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Melissa Zink: The Language of Enchantment

September 24 - December 30, 2006


The Harwood Museum of Art of the University of New Mexico is presenting the exhibition Melissa Zink: The Language of Enchantment organized by Stephen Parks of Parks Gallery (Taos) and Margaret Bullock, museum curator. The exhibition opens September 24 and will be on view through December 30, 2006. It features more than 40 works from Zink's distinguished career, ranging from early ceramic tableaux to recent mixed media assemblages and bronze sculptures. 

Melissa Zink has had a diverse and highly successful career creating richly complex works that reference the world of books. About her art, Zink says: "I think it's always been about ideas and language, the shapes of letters and the impact of words. Some artists follow landscape all their lives. Language is my landscape." 

Zink has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions including the University of New Mexico's Melissa Zink: Journeys 1977-1990; an exhibition in 1993 at the University of Colorado Art Gallery, Boulder; a retrospective at the Roswell Museum of Art in 1996; and a 2002 survey at St. John's College Fine Arts Gallery, Santa Fe. She was honored as the New Mexico representative in the National Museum of Women in the Arts series of exhibitions, "From the States," in Washington, D.C. in 2000 and was the recipient of the New Mexico Governor's Award for Excellence and Achievement in the Arts in 2001. Her work can be found in the collections of the Albuquerque Museum, Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, the Capitol Art Collection, State of New Mexico, the St. John's College Library and the Harwood Museum of Art as well as myriad private collections. 

Zink was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1932 and received her formal education at Emma Willard School, Swarthmore College, Kansas City Art Institute, and University of Chicago. In the late 1970s, after raising a daughter and operating a custom framing business, she was encouraged by her husband, Nelson, Zink, to devote herself full-time to a career as an artist.   She began experimenting with clay, creating dream-like dioramas peopled by art world figures and characters of her own creation. She gradually incorporated color and textures in these works using clay to suggest paper, fabric and other materials then adding painted and sculptural elements. In the past decade, she has been experimenting with mixed media assemblages that draw on painting, drawing, printmaking, collage, stamping, and sculpture to create finely nuanced, intricately layered wall pieces. 

Though Zink has explored new ideas and techniques with each new body of work, the central core of her art is books. She notes: "the center I have been circling around and around is a private aesthetic formed from books and by books. That aesthetic developed from the act of reading, the memories of reading, the literal companionship of books, the enchantments of photography, typography, graphic design, paper, leather, etc. Everything I find most beautiful and moving is in some way connected to books." Her works incorporate an astonishing range of references from Pieter Brueghel and René Magritte to Charles Dickens and Alice in Wonderland, the histories of typography and bookbinding, and the crafts of papermaking and framing. They are finely wrought and visually compelling objects meant to evoke particular states of mind. Stephen Parks, who has represented her since 1993, says of her work: "Her aim is to replicate what she thinks of as the book experience-that altered state of consciousness we enter when engrossed in a book. It's a state that's inflected by words and characters and plots, of course, but also by typeface and papers, bindings and illustrations." 

Melissa Zink: The Language of Enchantment, assembled from public and private collections, offers an overview of Zink's diverse and compelling body of work. Curator Margaret Bullock states: "Melissa Zink is one of Taos's art treasures. She has lived and worked here for over 25 years and though her work is not about New Mexico, she says that the beauty of this area and the freedom she feels here have fueled her creativity. This exhibition is a celebration of that long and fruitful relationship." 

The exhibition coincides with the publication of a major new catalogue of Zink's work titled Zink: The Language of Enchantment, published by New Mexico Magazine Press and with text by Hollis Walker. A limited edition of the book will include a bronze maquette from Zink's Guardian series in a compartment set into the cover. Books will be available for purchase through the Harwood Museum shop and Parks Gallery. There will be a gallery talk by the book's author followed by a book signing with the artist at the Harwood Museum on Saturday, October 14 from 2-4 pm. 

Melissa Zink: The Language of Enchantment opens Sunday, September 24, 2006 with a public reception from 3-5 pm.


(above: D.H. Lawrence: A Biography in the Analytic Mode, 1986, mixed media, 7 1/2 x 19 x 10 inches, Harwood Museum of Art)


(above: A Dream of Roots, 1996, mixed media, 24 1/2 x 20 1/2 x 8 inches, Courtesy of the artist)


(above: Compendium of Certain Languages of Love, 2000, mixed media, 29 x 40 x 2 1/2 iinches, Courtesy of the artist)

rev. 9/1/06

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