Artist Melissa Balch describes her work style as one of becoming obsessed by an art form, then studying it immersively for a period of 3-5 years.
Then, seemingly just as easily, she releases it.
“Last Dance”, her ceramics show at Moss + Mineral through March 26, 2016, is the product of one such aesthetic binge during which she worked in the pottery studio every day for five years. Sea forms, bodily organs and breasts (lots of breasts) make their appearance here. Balch has been a practitioner of tai chi for 10 years, and is an instructor of kundalini yoga. Meditation is at the core of her studio practice: “I would always get the answers in meditation,” she says, “and the best ideas.” This exhibit offers an amazing tidepool of her subconsciously-related imagery: “I was working with my Chinese doctor and that’s where the body organs came from.”
The centerpiece of “Last Dance” is a pair of silver-leafed ceramic sandals topped by pink lotus blossoms, her play on Japanese maiko, the decorative high-platform, lacquered wooden shoes worn by apprentice geisha. A second pair of sky-high, Western-style shoes – with nippled breasts for toes – makes a further statement about the ludicrous extremes of fashion. After producing this striking body of work, Balch put away her clay sculpting tools.
Check out “Last Dance” at Moss + Mineral through March 26, 2016. 305 South 9th, Tacoma, WA 98402. February hours: Saturday noon-5, and by appointment. Opening reception date to come!