DEB MELL is a mixed-media, assemblage artist, who frequently works large - 8 foot totems or 6 foot wall hangings.
"Mell's art defies easy categorization, much as did the Chicago Hairy Who group, whom I think of when looking at Deb's art", notes Berta Walker. And her sculpture surprises at every turn as she incorporates dolls, beads, snake skins, feathers she secures from hunters, metals and recycled materials. "There is nothing I won't use. I think of the stuff I use as 'my palette'".
"All of the artwork is festooned with whimsical details that have been culled from a mélange of creatures inhabiting sea, sky and land," wrote Susan Rand Brown. It can conjure ancient spirits while playfully inviting serious reflection."
Rutgers Professor Fran Bartkowski noted: "Deb Mell's art is a haunting experience in every sense...She captures our eyes with her saturated, illuminating colors, her sparkling materials, and her figures who inhabit a borderland of human, animal, chimera and monsters.... Mel claims her place as an artist who is a shaman. She works from her history as a woman who knows the female body and its potential for transformation, as well as from her heritage as a Native American."
Deb Mell grew up in Collinsville, Illinois. By the time she was in high school, she was building 10 foot-high geodesic domes modeled after Buckminster Fuller (whom she met), using old garden hoses as connectors. During her studies on scholarship at Illinois State University, she started working at the college art galleries whose holdings included pre-Columbian and African art, where she built exhibits and repaired African artifacts.
In the mid-1970's, Mell was one of ten artists awarded a Max Beckman Scholarship residency, sponsored by the Brooklyn Museum, providing the opportunity to be in New York and become involved with many artists of the day.
Deb Mell has received numerous grants & residencies and has been included in over 50 Museum and gallery exhibitions throughout her career.