Outside, Inside: Masha Melnik Captures Spirit of Nature From Within
Article by Carlos Suarez De Jesus, Independent Art Critic
There is an old saying referring to the profound connection Russians have with their geography that reflects a universal theme those of us who appreciate nature can easily identify with. “Everyone loves the tree that gives him shelter,” goes the adage.
Masha Melnik, a native of Saint Petersburg, Russia, who now calls South Florida home, distils the proverb to its purest essence through soaring photo murals which capture the natural environment in all its grandeur. Her poetic imagery transports viewers to breathtaking scenes far from the hectic bustle and din typical of big city life.
But don’t confuse her work with that of traditional landscape photographers whose boundaries Melnik gracefully ventures beyond with a distinctly unique eye.
This artist’s magic stems from the ability to convey an inherent sense of drama in her pictures which bring the spirit of the outdoors into the home inviting an intimate relationship between Melnik’s subject matter and the people who live with her art.
Encounter one of her wall-engulfing compositions and you’ll marvel at how a twisting tree trunk engages viewers with a compelling freshness and near abstract quality where the interplay of texture, surface structure, and the luminous color is richly displayed.
Yet another towering piece places the spectator under a dense copse of trees while the sun dapples the earth below with a cascade of light peeking serenely through the verdant canopy of leaves. Stop for a rare moment of quiet reflection before the opus and you might experience an ineffable moment as if standing in an outdoor cathedral sheltering you under a shady mantle of peace.
“Nature for me is a complex web of feelings and senses,” Melnik explains. “That’s what I see, feel and perceive. For example, while walking, I can stop and feel the forest, wet soil smells and the murmuring of the stream. That’s how I get my inspiration to take a photo. I think at these moments I take photos of my condition,” the artist reflects.
Pother compositions from her sweeping “Touch of Nature,” series begun in 2013, were taken in diverse regions of America ranging from California to Massachusetts and North Carolina while inspired by the lush forests and wild expanses of her homeland.“I grew up in Russia, in my favorite city, Saint Petersburg,” Melnik reflects. “It’s an unbelievably beautiful old city surrounded by green forests and blooming fields,” she adds.
Melnik also says she feels a deep, spiritual bond with nature that took root in her childhood and fuels her creative passions today.
“We spend a lot of time outside when we were kids. I remember and can define smells of the forest in fall, first frosts and spring dewdrops. Through nature, I had my first creative experience. That’s why now I want to bring a piece of nature into the home without harming it. That’s how I rest and relax,” Melnik says.