Melia Ortiz

A Collaboration with Plants

Breathing fresh mountain air, making physical contact with the earth, and embracing the spirit of adventure fuel my life. I grew up taking long road trips across the United States, stopping to explore all the national parks along the way. My fascination with nature only grew from there. I love spending time outdoors, noticing the small moments of wonder that nature creates, such as the way two vines intertwined as they climb a tree or the layers that make up a single smooth stone. This love for nature’s beauty built my desire to create my own beauty, and it is the foundation of my artistic practice.

Through my work, I want to share my passion for our world and guide others in building their own relationships with mother earth. As a society, we tend to separate, or even elevate, ourselves from the rest of the natural world, even though we too are a part of nature. We created a culture that normalizes life indoors, as we buy prepackaged food without a thought of how it grew and drive over pavement without considering what was once underneath. It is important to stop and reflect on our relationship with the natural world, and find ways to work alongside it, because only mutually beneficial relationship can we protect the environment.

In this body of work, I explore the collaborations I can have with nature through art, in order to reflect on, and develop, my relationship with the environment. To produce this work, I allow seeds and beans to grow out of wet, hand-built clay forms. Through this process, the plants leave behind their mark on my creations as they push and crack the surface in order to sprout. This results in a collaborative piece made by both my hand and the emergence of the plants. I am fascinated by the life cycles of the plants and the rapid fossilization that occurs after the slip coated plants burn away in the kiln, allowing an ephemeral moment to become permanent. This process reflects natural cycles of growth, death, and fossilization, allowing us to see both the effect of time, as well as capture moments in time to treasure. In viewing my work, I hope one will take the time to notice the moments of beauty and reflect on, and reinvigorate, their own relationship with the natural world.

 

Visit Melia’s personal website here.

Connection 5/31, 2020, White and Brown unfired clay, glass jar, Navy Beans, Pinto Beans, Mayocoba Beans, Great Northern Beans, Chickpeas, Red Beans, Lima Beans, Lentils, Black Eyed Peas, Black Beans, and Chia Seeds.

This piece was constructed through 11 phone calls with some of the people I find it most important to stay connected with during this time. Each person I talked to contributed to the work by choosing the next layer to add to the jar. This image will be updated throughout the show to reflect the continued growth of the plants. Check back often to see this piece change and grow!

 

Check out More of Melia’s work below!

″Origins″ 2020 White Stoneware, Navy Beans, Pinto Beans, Mayocoba Beans, Great Northern Beans, Chickpeas, Red Beans, Lima Beans, Lentils, Black Eyed Peas, Black Beans, Chia Seeds 3 x 4 x 4 in each

″Origins 2″ 2020 White Stoneware, Navy Beans, Pinto Beans, Mayocoba Beans, Great Northern Beans, Chickpeas, Red Beans, Lima Beans, Lentils, Black Eyed Peas, Black Beans, Chia Seeds 3 x 4 x 4 in each

″Farm to Table″2020 Brown Stoneware 4 x 30 x 30 in

″Absence″ 2020 Unfired Clay, Plants, White and Brown Stoneware 4 x 10 x 14 in

″Encapsulated growth″ 2020 Unfired Clay, Plants, Brown stoneware 3 x 4 x 3 in

″Absence 2″ 2020 Unfired Clay, Plants, White and Brown Stoneware 4 x 10 x 14 in