Indelible Images: Melissa A. Smith ’87

Visual Art by Alumnae Artists

mural: Melissa Smith’s Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, Katrina Plus Six Months

Melissa Smith’s Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, Katrina Plus Six Months is oil on board.
She paints outdoors, often working from a pontoon boat or the back of her SUV.

Melissa A. Smith ’87 has always been inspired by the outdoors—from the rolling hills of North Carolina where she grew up, to the beauty of Western Massachusetts when she was at Mount Holyoke, to the sweeping landscape of the Gulf Coast where she currently lives.

Smith received a bachelor of fine arts from MHC, and a master of fine arts in painting at Tulane University. Her work was recently published in the book, A Unique Slant of Light: The Bicentennial of Art in Louisiana and will be included in a group show of Gulf Coast landscapes at the Jean Bragg Gallery in New Orleans this coming May.

Smith painted Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, Katrina Plus Six Months from the beach where she took walks before Hurricane Katrina’s thirty-foot storm surge damaged or destroyed many buildings in the small coastal town. Shortly before the storm, Smith began dividing her panoramic paintings into sections. Dividing the paintings helped relay the passage of time through contrasts of weather, lighting, or seasons. For this painting, Smith says, “Breaking the view into pieces seemed sadly appropriate. However, the recovery in Bay St. Louis and New Orleans has been remarkable, with a newfound appreciation of our culture and architecture in both places.”

—By Taylor Scott

See more of Melissa Smith’s work.

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