Going ‘Home’ with Melissa Cooke

0 Comments 29 May 2015

Melissa Cooke’s latest exhibit is exhilarating and hypnotic, like a freshly vandalized birthday cake.

By Evan Senn


Melissa Cooke usually creates gorgeous, photo realistic graphite drawings of people, skin, and extremely detailed intimate moments of humans. Lately, she has been exploring a bit more edge and whimsy in her realistic creations, adding a bit more of herself into her work. In her third solo show at Koplin Del Rio in Culver City, Cooke is exploring a more urban aesthetic in graphite–“No Place Like Home.”

“The images are drawn from scenes I found in my daily life while walking the streets of Brooklyn.  They are inspired by marks people have left on the city: Discarded objects, wheat paste posters, and graffiti.  In the ever changing, gritty landscape of New York, one moment in time is captured.  Like a collaboration with the city, my voice joins the layered conversation of street art and culture.”


Cooke plays with her rendering a bit more in this series as well; no longer simply photo realism, now, she is exploring the playful freedom of flatness, tromp l’oeil and using powdered graphite alongside her pencils and sticks. Some of the works get into the nitty gritty of art history as well, referencing traditional portraiture while also juxtaposing it next to or near more unexpected ephemeral style marks.

“The still lifes evoke the figure while hinting at a larger narrative. ‘Wig in the Weeds’ was the first in this series, which was inspired by a long, curly wig that that I discovered amidst the dandelions. Like forensic evidence left at a crime scene, there is both an attraction and repulsion to these discarded objects. That tension and complexity continues to and inspire me and my work.”


Cooke’s work usually feels a bit like a symphony of perfect marks and ideal notes. But, in this new work, she is taking on a bit more of a punk rock vibe, with subjects in her works surrounding heavy drinking, vandalism, junk food, and broken dreams. Even the most calm work in the series, decorative and pattern-based makes us want to grab a flask of tequila, put on our steel-toe boots and get to wreckin,’ reliving our college days in the gross but awesome, yet-to-be-developed San Pedro punk scene.













“No Place Like Home”

Koplin Del Rio

6031 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

May 30 – July 11, 2015

Reception: Saturday, May 30, 5:00 – 7:00 pm

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- who has written 16 posts on Yay! LA | Arts & Culture Magazine.

Evan is the Editor-In-Chief of Inland Empire Weekly, Culture Magazine, and owns and operates the independent online art journal, Rogue Art Research & Writing. She has an M.A. in Art History and is a Curator, Artist, Graphic Designer, Editor and Writer. She has contributed as an arts writer for Beautiful Bizarre Magazine, KCET Artbound, OC Art Blog, OC Register, OC Register Magazine, Artillery Magazine, Local Arts Magazine, Culture Magazine, IE Weekly, Laika Magazine, Unite4:Good, and E-VOLVED Magazine. Past publications also include ArtScene, Juxtapoz, and Art Ltd. Follow her on at Twitter @EvanASenn. Follow her on Instagram at @senntastic.

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