darcy marie melton
Darcy Marie Melton is a painter and illustrator who splits her time between the US and Italy. She is a self-taught artist working primarily in watercolor, gouache, and oil. Her work resides in private collections in the US and UK and has been hung in group collections in the Cannon Tunnel in Washington, D.C. as well as the Jepson Center in Savannah, GA among others.
I was organizing crayons by color before I could talk... which is not a flex! I think we all have a knack for something before we could ever recognize it. For me, it was color. It's hard to say when I really became interested in art because it's something so natural and normal for me that it seems to have always been there. In elementary school I entered my drawing in a contest for the school playbill cover. I was passed over and my best friend won. That was one of the first times that I realized that I believed in myself and in my craft. I am a competition averse person, but in that moment I believed firmly that I should have won and that I was good at what I did.
When I was thirteen, I went to an art camp at what would be my future high school. I met Mr.Wilkerson, an incredible art teacher and artist. He taught me how to use watercolor and encouraged me in my art. All the while improving my art skills, I was enraptured by a desire to be a fashion and costume designer. To the point that when encouraged by a college admissions adviser, after seeing my clothing designs, to be an illustrator, I clung to fashion design. I clung to it when I was told "it's not art," by professors. I clung to it until I felt like I couldn't handle or change how toxic the industry is.
After a year spent using the corporate and business skills I had learned from that one year of majoring in fashion and business, then a few as an art teacher at a preschool, a failed children's outerwear business, then a few more years traveling, I have found my way back to illustrating and painting.
Traveling and living, mostly in southern Italy, in the last few years as the rest of the world is finally starting to take notice of climate change, so was I. Don't get me wrong, I haven't been living under a rock... or a pile of garbage, I just had a naive idea that more people were doing something to protect our planet. In Vallo di Diano, where I live in southern Italy, booming farms full of local produce and ancient family land butt up against toxic waste dumps. Beautiful wooded mountain sides slide into fields full of broccoli raab and artichokes, then large swaths of yellow corn grow to feed the cattle packed so tight they can't move with their heads shoved in troughs, and a factory pumping ominous white smoke mixes with clouds all under the sunny blue sky. Nationwide we all separate our waste by paper, plastic, aluminum, compost, and whatever is left. Yet the valley and river that winds through is dotted with piles of garbage dumped there in the night. The slope of a mountain drops to a small waterfall and river near our house, complete with a discarded stove and new bags of garbage tossed over the side weekly. I realized that the states is worse, but it's kept out of sight by and large. We all read the stories about floating barges of plastic in the ocean, but when it's what I see every day, there is never a time I'm not thinking about it.
There is no way to untangle or separate every social and political injustice from the climate crisis. That's what my art is about. There is no way for me to separate a part of me from nature and my impact on it or from people and my place in the world. Much of my recent work deals with food waste and what we perceive to be "good" foods. Worldwide we waste about1.4 billion tons of food per year and Americans alone discard about 30 - 40 % of the entire US food supply every year.
I still organize my crayons and art supplies by color, but now I'm using them to bring a voice to our planet.
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awards and publications
Best of Bonfire Winner in the Designs that Empower Women category.
"Lightly Bruised" and "Egg 1" featured in the Fall 2021 Issue.
"Magpie" featured in Issue Six of Lumiere Review.
"Kingfisher" featured in Issue Three of Dishsoap Quarterly.