About the Artist

Melissa realized she wanted to be an artist when she was in the 5th grade. Her teacher, Dorothy Rygg recognized and nurtured her creative gift, inspiring Melissa to work on art projects, separate from her classmates. They have kept in touch throughout the years. Their artistic kinship continues to this day.

Color has always been a strong element of Melissa's artwork. In high school, when she won the Senior Art Show Grand Prize, the judges were impressed by her striking use of color. As a studio art major at Scripps College in Claremont, California she painted colorful murals in several public campus venues, including the "Motley to the View" coffeehouse. Among her other mural projects are a swimming pool and a kitchen ceiling. In her junior year, she had an internship at the Millard Sheets Design Studio, which was known for making the murals for all of the Home Savings & Loan branch buildings. The studio produced murals in three different media: painted murals on canvas or wood, mosaics, and stained glass.

Little did Melissa know that a year after she graduated from college, she would take a course in stained glass technique, to design a large room divider for her parents' home remodeling project. Like most beginners, her first window - a stylized butterfly design - was not well-crafted. On her second window, she discovered she was more proficient with the copper-foil technique (created by Louis Comfort Tiffany to make intricately detailed lampshades). After eight class sessions and two completed windows, Melissa decided she would build the 5' x 5 1/2' room divider herself! In stained glass, she found the perfect medium to combine her love of color and her unique sense of design.

Melissa's passion for glass has provided her a variety of experiences. She has twice attended the prestigious Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington, which was co-founded by Dale Chihuly. After watching the extraordinary glassblowers in the hot shop at Pilchuck, she enrolled at Santa Monica College where she learned how to blow hot molten glass herself. Melissa enjoyed the contrast of working three-dimensionally, and found that it was complementary to her two-dimensional work in stained glass. It inspired her to include blown glass rondels (flat, circular plates) into her windows, which she commissions highly skilled glass artists to blow for her.

The blown glass rondels are ideal for Melissa to incorporate her signature design feature: the mandala. The mandala is a timeless, universal symbol with many meanings. Some use it to facilitate meditation, as a means of inner healing and self-orientation. For Melissa, it represents balance, wholeness, and perfection.

Because glass is a challenging and unforgiving medium to work with, the fine craft of building a stained glass window gives Melissa a tremendous sense of satisfaction. It has also garnered her recognition for excellence. She received a Gold Medal Award from the "Art Of California" magazine, and was published in the magazine's Discovery Awards Annual. In addition to exhibiting her work in art galleries, her glass panels have been exhibited in two southern California museums: the Oceanside Museum of Art and the Carnegie Art Museum.