Spatial Interpretation with Allyson Mellberg-Taylor
Written by Floyd Bellweather All Images courtesy of Allyson Mellberg-Taylor

Allyson Mellberg-Taylor’s art is the right kind of weird.  It is the type of art that makes you happy to have eyes.  She is not a follower in any sense of the word.  Her expression is pure and carnal in a very calm and soothing way.  How does she do it?  It is difficult to describe art that is simple, deep, natural, clean and gritty all at the same time.  Sometimes words don’t have the wherewithal to be completely useful.  Allyson’s art is taking off for all the correct reasons and she is extremely busy so Style.No.Chaser is very honored that she made time for the below interview.  Enjoy!

“I greatly admire artists who are able to communicate deeply political …”

Please tell us a little about yourself – your childhood, siblings, where you grew up, what you liked as a child, strange thoughts as a child/now, unique attributes, where you live now, etc.?

I grew up in south of Milwaukee, WI in a town called Racine with one big brother. My Mom is an artist and had an art studio in the basement of our house so we spent a lot of time making things and exploring nature. The strangest thought I had as a child that probably lives within me to this day is a strong desire to communicate with nature and befriend wild animals, which is not always possible and definitely dangerous sometimes! These days I live in Virginia where I work with my husband/collaborator/love of my life/gardening conspirator Jeremy Taylor and our daughter Margot. I am also a professor at James Madison University.

How do you describe your form of art and what tools do you primarily use?

I work in a lot of mediums but the most frequent is ink and egg tempera on paper.  All of my drawing/ink/paint materials are homemade and nontoxic… It would be odd to make work about the environment with materials that are bad for the environment!

What does your art and art in general mean to you?

All in all I view it as a form of communication with others. Specifically for me, it’s a way to communicate to others about how we interact with the natural world and how that interaction can be helpful or harmful. I greatly admire artists who are able to communicate deeply political and environmental issues through their work.

Your images have an alluring simplicity to them that is at the same time quite refined and sophisticated – can you expand on what you want viewers to experience from your work, the symbolism behind it and also how you came up with this unique style?

I think the simplicity of my drawings comes largely from being influenced by old children’s book illustrations, printmaking, and icon paintings. I think that open quality (spatially, or in the simplicity of the figures) allows for the viewer to have some room to interpret the piece and imagine the scenario (whatever it may be, someone trying to misguidedly feed rocks to a rodent) within a space that is neutral and quiet – similar to what you might experience when you experience something new or interesting in nature. 

What is the worst critique you have ever received about your work? What is the best compliment that you have received about your work?

I think it was when a dear friend said my work was too gross and questioned why I would do such a thing! Haha. But I also thought that was kind of funny too. The best compliment is harder to pin down… for me the best thing that happens is when people really spend time looking at a show/specific piece and then ask me all kinds of questions about it and/or get some of the weird sci-fi references buried in my art… Those are the most exciting responses for me. 

Which artist/s do you look up to the most?

I really love Leonora Carrington’s work and she will always be one of my heroines. I also love Misaki Kawaii’s work it is so beautiful and joyful. Its mushy but I also adore my husband, Jeremy Taylor’s work so much and feel so lucky that we make so much work together because that collaboration has been so fun and produced some of my favorite work I have ever made. His work is beautiful, smart, funny, and addresses important issues of how we treat our world. Ever since we were grad students together I have admired his style and his work ethic. I also adore the illustrator, Gyo Fujikawa’s books.

Since Style.No.Chaser is a men’s lifestyle magazine, what attributes/items/clothing /etc. do you think define a man?

I think the attributes that define a man are first how he treats everybody else! As far as clothing goes… I always like it when guys have their own truly individual style, and don’t look like everyone else… even if that style is totally crazy! I have been thinking more lately about nice denim too, Jeremy started making beautiful selvedge jeans for himself, and then me (!!!) and I have really appreciated how beautiful handmade jeans are. 

What is your personal life philosophy?

Be good to others, make art, garden, go to the ocean as much as possible, and cherish your family. Ever since we had our daughter I have really been aware of how much of a gift every day is. 

What would you want your last meal to be?

A big huge salad with all of the good stuff on top, A big piece of Tiramisu, and Iced Tea.

Who dead or alive, celebrity or not, artist or not, would you like to go on a two week road trip with and why?

My best lady friend, artist Catherine Stack, because it has been too long and it would be so fun.

What type of music do you listen to (if at all) when working?

Stuff that is familiar so that I can sing along or zone out on it repeating over and over again… while working on a bunch of shows recently we listened to Ariel Pink Pom Pom over and over and lots of New Order. 

How can people learn more about (or buy) your current and upcoming works?

My main gallery representation is with Galerie LJ in Paris and Cinders in NYC – both of those galleries have webshops with work in them. I also occasionally will post stuff on my Etsy shop.

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