Abstract painter Melissa Dunn says the formal nature of her work is a response to image saturation and constant overstimulation. "I feel like I'm being bombarded with information," she says. "There's just so much visual information coming at me all the time, I have to set parameters. Like a three-chord rock song."
Dunn's latest round of paintings, collectively titled "You, Me, and Us," goes on display this week at L. Ross Gallery and draw from an inviting mid-20th-century color palette. They are inspired as much by the artist's gardening and studio life, as her desire to understand and map her own process from concept through completion. The work is also inspired by the musical experiments of New Orleans musician and performance artist, Mr. Quintron.
"A few years ago Mr. Quintron made this thing called 'The Singing House,' and he documented it in a video," Dunn explains. "It was a system of machines he'd invented that responded to the weather with ambient sounds. So, if it was raining outside, there was one sound. If it's windy, that's another sound. If the barometric pressure is one way, everything changes. And this one thing Quintron says in the video was a game changer for me. He said, 'No two days sound the same.' Well, no two days look the same either. I'm probably going to riff on that idea for the rest of my life."
There are loose threads of pop and op-art running through Dunn's heavily expressive work. She might play with the form of a rug from the 1930s or loosely sample a curtain pattern she found in a '50s-era interior design magazine. "I might make a really loosey-goosey mark," Dunn says, attempting to explain how her rigidly imagined formal studies can exude so much warmth. "I don't use tape. I make sure you see the artist's hand in there. The lines are still straight, but there's something about a little wobble here and there."