WHEN DID YOU START DRAWING?
I started drawing when I was six-years-old at our family house in Andros one summer visit from New York.
I drew every moment of the day, anything I saw, until one day a neighbor compared me to my grandmother, whom I loved and who had just died. In that exact moment I put down my pencil.
Nevertheless, I always doodled as a child and continue to doodle– everywhere; on newspapers, paper bags, on school books and the pages of my journal notebooks – and I always made things with my hands. I did not return to making art until I started to write a novel about Greece, and about the pain of emigration, described through the eyes of a child who had, like me, lost her grandmother.
The assemblages i made then out of found objects were three-dimensional representations of the fictional story, of the threads of my own story.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOURSELF AS AN ARTIST?
Artist is a heavy term. All I can say is I have to do what I’m doing. I work with found metal and wire, elaborating with colored thread. I shape the pieces and they tell their own stories.
Since those first pieces my work has become more abstract, but I am still a story teller in these efforts; in all my art I am just telling a story in a different way.
DO YOU WORK WITH OTHER MEDIA?
I paint, though not a lot. Each story picks its own form. Sometimes what I need to express comes out as an assemblage, sometimes as a short story, an essay, sometimes as a poem.
Words are my paint brush and sometimes the metal is. I go with the flow, with no other purpose. I just have to express what comes out of me.
I’m a sponge and I take everything in, observing everyone and everything.
It’s as if my brain is constantly on and the process somehow translates into an expression.
It may take days, weeks, months, or a minute, but it permeates my brain and I pick from that pool what I want to do.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Location inspires me, especially Andros, which is the only place where I feel any sense of being at home.The wind inspires me; the sea inspires me; my family roots inspire me; and the elusive sense of belonging I always seem to be searching for.
Andros is the place I retreat to to express myself, to the writing community I have developed over the last 17 years (Aegean Arts Circle). I work with writers who come from all over the world and their stories inspire me even while I create my own.
This year, for the first time ever as part of a group art exhibit ( Objects & Flow II), I collaborated with another artist, writing poetry and painting together.
The joint exhibit, with wonderful thinker Niko Garyfallos, explored cultural structure and freedom.
The assemblages, poetry and paintings we created together appeared at Blue Enigma in our village of Apika Sariza.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE?
In the future I hope to get my novel published.
I am working on an essay collection with photos and I am making more assemblages.
I hope to take part in new shows. I have lots to say about loss, belonging, immigration, our humanity.
Amalia Melis is Greek-American and was born and raised in New York. She is an assemblage maker and a freelance hard news/feature writer who has worked from New York and Athens, Greece. Her assemblage sculptures have been part of group art exhibits in the U.S., Germany and Greece. She has published interviews with two Pulitzer Prize winning authors Michael Cunningham and Frank McCourt. She is an essay/fiction writer as well. Her short story Immigrant Daughters won the 2nd place New Writers Award in Glimmer Train. Her essays have been published in Guernica, Glimmer Train Bulletin, KYSO Flash, Ducts, etc. She is the founder/organizer of the Aegean Arts Circle writing workshops held in Andros, Greece each summer since 2003.
Participated in the following Art Exhibits:
• Objects & Flow II, 2019, Andros, Greece
• Objects & Flow, 2018, Andros, Greece
• Watching Angels Exhibit, 2013, Brattleboro, Vermont, U.S.A.
• Creativity in a Time of Chaos Exhibit, 2012, Athens, Greece
• Tainted Love Exhibit , 2012, Athens, Greece
• Two Sides Exhibit, 2010, Berlin, Germany
Short Fiction, Essays:
• Glimmer Train August 2015 Essay on Greece (Bulletin #103) http://www.glimmertrain.com/bulletins/essays/b103melis.php
• Guernica July 2015 Essay on Greece
• CNN iReports July 2015 Essay on Greece
• KYSO Flash Oct. 2014 Essay http://www.kysoflash.com/Issue1/MelisRyan.aspx
• KYSO Flash Oct. 2014 http://www.kysoflash.com/Issue1/MelisAssemblages.aspx
• Writers@Work Feb. 2014 Short Story Finalist & Honorable Mention
“A One Minute Dream”
• Glimmer Train Dec. 2013 Honorable Mention Short Story “I Know My Place”
• Ducts 2013 (winter) Essay on Greece http://www.ducts.org/content/essays/screaming-from-inside-the-sealed-vault/
• Glimmer Train April 2012 Essay on Greece (Bulletin #63) http://www.glimmertrain.com/bulletins/essays/b63melis.php
• Glimmer Train 2007 Short Story finalist “Broken English”
• Glimmer Train 2005 Short Story finalist “Daughter News”
• Glimmer Train 2002 (Spring) 2nd Place Short Story Award for New Writers “Immigrant Daughter”
Education: M. A., Media Studies, New School for Social Research, New York
B.B.A., Marketing/Journalism, Baruch College (CUNY), New York