Melissa Eden Campbell:
purple aardvark

I have spent the majority of my life in the Southern United States. I was born in Huntsville, AL in 1970 and have lived in Texas, Oregon, and Georgia as well. All of the locations in which I have lived have given me some interesting perspectives on the human race, and perhaps unusual perspectives on myself.

Before I ever started school I had learned to read. I even wrote a story or two with the type of illustrations that only a child can fully master. And then I started school. I recall so very clearly being in elementary school and having art class with Ms. Dempsey. She always had kind words for me while I was painting or making things from clay. The art program was canceled. I couldn't understand why. It wasn't until I was older that I learned of the policies that cut things like art out of early education.

I think it was while I was in the third grade when I was deemed "above average intelligence" by the powers that be. I was placed in a class for "gifted" students, and at least there we FM not radio by M E Campbellwere allowed to do creative projects. This was my very first exposure to what our teacher called junkyard art. We were taken outside, encouraged to pluck garbage and shape it into something new. I was obsessed with this concept to the point where I didn't want to do anything else. I kept asking to be sent outside so that I could find more stuff to work with. At first my teacher indulged this, but my extreme enthusiasm probably got a bit out of hand, and eventually I was no longer allowed to roam about collecting up bits of broken glass to make my "works of art."

After this disappointment, it would be literally years before I would begin to make things again. In 1985, I changed my name. Basically I took the name Eden from a song that I liked and made it my own. I did this upon moving from Portland, OR back to my hometown of Hunstville, AL. In Oregon I had been encouraged to write as a creative outlet. I don't know how many stories, poems, and songs I have written since then. Most of them were lost in the various moves that I would make later on. Back to Eden...music has been critical in my development. And music dominated my teenage years. I have more lyrics memorized in my head than could reasonably be necessary to know. From Johnny Cash in my early years to bands such as The Smiths, The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Pixies, Joy Division, The Cocteau Twins, Oingo Boingo, and many others.

It was after moving back to Hunstville that I became involved in theatre. This was a major turning point. When the Magnet Program for the Arts was implemented, I wholeheartedly applied and was accepted into the drama program. The support of teachers Vivienne Atkins and Ron Harris taught me to explore art. Looking back, working on the sets always was a source of great joy for me. I met Natalie West while I was in highschool. She is  a wonderfully gifted artist and her works have always been a source of inspiration.

After graduating from highschool I was involved with lots of local theatre projects and even joined a band. "The Cooties" was my first band with longtime friend Derek Marlow, who also happens to be an artist (and currently in the musical project known as The Fire Time). The moderate success of "The Cooties" along with a number of other factors prompted my dropping out of college in 1992 to move to Athens, GA, legendary home of REM and the B-52's. I had this vague notion that I would move to Athens and continue to work on music. Boy, was I ever wrong.

The sheer struggle to just pay the bills kept me out of the artistic loop once we moved. It never occurred to me that I would ever be that broke. However, living with Cousin Jennifer Miner and Christian Fedoseyev made this seem more fun than traumatic. Oh the Ramen Noodles! I finally got a great job at the UGA library, and then I had time to look around and see what Athens had to offer. Artworks by Howard Finster were everywhere in Athens, and I have to admit that they captivated me. It was at this time that I met Catherine Sciaccotta. Her unique crayon drawings invoked something in my soul that I will never be able to forget. A trip to New Mexico to visit an old highschool friend who had changed her name to Aria Da Capo sealed the deal. Aria had taken up sculpture in extremely mixed media. All the memories of my younger days, deep in glue and paint came flooding back tenfold. And I started to work in art once again.

1995 was my first real exposure to the internet. A sort of practical joke with a friend had me signed on to the IRC, or internet relay chat. That's where I met my compu-guru. He really encouraged me to learn more about computers and to explore the art that I was doing at the time. He even sent me a really nice pen that I used to draw with all the time. During this interlude I was back in Huntsville briefly, and then went to Atlanta where I was fortunate to get a job in a frame shop so that I could learn more about art. From there it was back to Athens where I worked in a silkscreen shop. That was a horrible job, but I learned a lot. :-)

Currently I am back in Huntsville *again* and in college studying graphic design as a "just in case" sort of measure. But the dream is of course to be a self-supporting artist. And hopefully my learning to write HTML and putting up a website will help me realize this dream. It means more to me than just about anything. And I am lucky to have a boyfriend that understands this and deals with the countless hours painting and living online to hopefully achieve my dream.

The subjects of my paintings are primarily from dreams and from what I think the materials want me to create. Mixed media is definitely where I find the most fun. It is like a puzzle where the pieces just want to be linked together. Almost always there is music playing in my mind while I paint, and frequently the titles of these pieces are taken from Art Work by M E Campbellwords in songs. Usually I find something that needs to be made into an artwork, and I concentrate on it until I see what it could be. I really like the band Sebadoh to paint to. Nick Cave and Mercury Rev are also great bands for visual inspiration.

And of course there are the Great Masters of Art. From Michelangelo to Picasso to Kandinsky to Freda Kahlo to Maxfield Parrish to M.C. Escher to the aforementioned Howard Finster. But predominately it has been the great people that I have been lucky enough to know personally who have influenced me the most. Including my mom! Not to mention the unwavering support of Brother Andrew and Sister Janie and their father who has since become my own.

Future projects include possibly putting some of my earlier drawings on my website, and maybe some of the photographs I have taken too. Definitely more paintings will be added as will the lithographs that I have done (special nod to master printmaker Michael Crouse here). 

I have been asked if there is a message that I might want to leave the world. Only appropriately I take a message from a song, "Live the life you love, and use the god you trust, and don't take it all too seriously." -Love and Rockets.

Melissa Eden Campbell
Visit the Purple Aardvark Gang

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