Back Talk with Melissa FormanJuxtapoz // Wednesday, 30 Sep 2009
At cursory glance, Melissa Forman’s paintings appear to be beautifully rendered replications of Victorian-era portraits. Allow your eyes to linger, however, and a modern day depth emerges in her subjects—through a glint in the eye or a certain frozen expression.
She says “while these mysterious, and sometimes withdrawn, figures were created from photos of friends and family of the artist, they are not meant to represent themselves, rather, they portray emotional states and aspects of the human psyche.”
We peppered artist Melissa Forman with our Back Talk questions this week; read on to discover the woman behind the artist.
How do you feel right now?
I'm a little hungry and tired, but otherwise, not bad.
If you could wake up in a different place tomorrow morning, where would it be and what would you do?
I wish I could wake up in a world where nothing started before 11am, every meal consisted of cupcakes and it was always 65 degrees.
If you lost your creative skill, how would you see yourself making a living?
I always wanted to be a psychologist. I took some post graduate classes in abnormal psychology, human development and child development because I thought that's what I'd go into if the art thing didn't work out.
If you could punch one living contemporary artist, who would it be?
Well, as far as punches go, I don't think mine would do much damage. So, if we could change "punch" to "hug" then I would pick my friend and fellow artist Paul Richmond. He inspired me to start showing my work and he's such an honest and open person that he motivates me to be more true to myself.
Was your first kiss worth writing a song about?
No, it sucked. I didn't even really like the kid, and the next day he told the whole class that I was a bad kisser.
At what point were you particularly happy?
I'm always the happiest when I'm doing something creative or learning something new. I do a lot of research for each one of my paintings and taking that new-to-me information and turning it into art is the most exciting part for me.
No regrets allowed, but there must have been one?
I really can't think of any regrets. I've definitely done some stupid stuff in my life, but it's all made me who I am today. You gotta take the good with the bad, I guess.
What trait do your friends have in common?
My friends are all really creative and passionate people. Each one has a distinct and interesting personality and has taught me something that has helped me in my own life.
If you had to evacuate your home or studio, what's the one thing you would grab?
The first thing I would grab would be my cats. After that, I'd go for the scrapbooks my mom made for me.
Greatest love of your life?
The greatest love of my life is my boyfriend Michael. I don't know how I got lucky enough to find him, but I know I couldn't go on without him. Everything I do is for him.
What is your favorite vice?
Oh, I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but I have a secret love for horrible reality shows, the cheesier the better.
When you blow out the birthday candles, what do you wish for?
I probably should answer this question with something noble or admirable like "world peace", but I really just wish for good presents.
If you could play a character from a favorite film or TV show for a day, who would it be?
Punky Brewster, all the way. I used to own the hi-tops and everything.
Do you ever lie?
I try not to lie...well, ok, that's a lie. I do lie. Yes, I'm a liar, but only for good causes. Sometimes being totally honest is pretty brutal.
Do you think viewers understand the intent of your work?
I hope people understand my artwork in a way that makes sense to them. I put my own thoughts and emotions into paintings and include symbols that mean things to me, but the best thing about them is hearing how other people interpret them. I love it when I get an email from someone who really understands everything I include in my paintings and what I'm trying to say, but it's also really interesting to hear a totally new interpretation of them that I could never see on my own.
What virtue can you do without?
Honestly, I'll have to pick "chastity" on this one. Sorry Mom.
Do you even notice when you're swearing?
Yeah, I'm pretty careful about it. I use it for emphasis once in awhile or for comic effect.
What has been your proudest moment?
The proudest moments I can remember are those when I've made others proud. I like it when my parents and friends get excited about things I am doing. I love painting and creating things, but seeing how excited my friends and family get about them makes them that much more important to me.
What would you like to be remembered for?
I want to be remembered for inspiring people with my artwork, sharing my life with the people I love, standing up for what I believe in, being true to myself, following my passion, learning the lessons I needed to learn, and being totally awesome. Yeah, I definitely want to be remembered for being totally awesome.
How would you prefer to die?
Maybe this is lame, but I want to die in my sleep. I want to be old and happy and ready to go. Nothing dramatic, just quick and painless.