Painting, Mixed Media
You don't have to look far to find great talent, says Melissa Morse.
"All the real artists aren't in the big cities," she says. "They're everywhere you go. And we have our own arena of talent here in Jackson."
Melissa would know. As a painter and mixed media artist, she's seen what's it's like to be an artist in the biggest city - New York. She traveled to the Big Apple in college and lived there for many years as an artist.
After several years in New York, she came back to Jackson wiser, and embraced her home community.
"It was the best thing for me, to stay in Jackson and raise my daughter," Melissa says. "Coming back here, you realize that you can run all over looking for a place to be happy. But if you have inner peace, you can be happy in Jackson."
Melissa explores happiness, loss, and faith through her art. She's also a bit of a self-made artist, stretching her own canvases and creating her own frames from recycled materials.
"I think it makes for a better product. You put more into it," she says.
Putting more into her art is a goal, Melissa says, whether that's trying out new styles or putting pieces together to make something new. It helps her express what's inside.
"It's true for most artists, but I'm an extremely emotionally-driven artist," Melissa says. "I want people to feel something when they look at it. I put my heart and soul into what I do."
And as is true for most people, that heart and soul can go through dark times. That's where art can help, like when Melissa lost her parents.
Melissa participated in Grand Rapids's ArtPrize showcase the year after her mother died. Melissa doubted that she was even worthy of being there. But the year before, her mother encouraged her to participate in the event.
“I want people to feel something when they look at it. I put my heart
and soul into what I do.”
"There was so much healing in that," Melissa says. "It was a difficult journey, but in the end, when I was there and sharing my story, it was just what I needed to do."
Being an artist involves going through ups and downs. It's true of creatives everywhere. But it is possible to be successful in Jackson, Melissa says. Artists just have to be willing to communicate and work together.
Take art shows. She notices that, when there's low turnout at an area show, it's often because people are what she calls "touch lazy."
"I see a little bit of procrastination," Melissa says. "Someone will say, 'Maybe I'll go to it,' and then not show up. Something needs to shake it up a bit."
In her own creative life, Melissa is the opposite of lazy. Recently, she became an art teacher for kids at Ella Sharp Museum during their summer camp series.
"It's the best kind of challenge, working with kids that age. But it's so rewarding," she says. "When you can learn as much as the other people are learning, I really love that."