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Learn all the fundamentals of design from Suffolk artist teaching at the VAC

Melody Boone promises she can teach you to draw. Her students at Tidewater Community College not only learn to draw what they see, they understand shape, value, color, texture, harmony, balance and control after completing her Fundamentals of Design class, a requirement for every program at the Visual Arts Center.

Don’t worry if you don’t have art experience. The TCC adjunct professor has plenty as an art educator and mixed media artist whose work has been on display at Gallery 5 in Richmond, the Jersey City Museum and the Peninsula Fine Arts Center to name a few.

Artwork by TCC professor Melody Boone
Image by Melody Boone

Boone specializes in combining her understanding of African-American history and art history, often to diffuse stereotypes. A particular digital photo series that is among her favorite pieces uses pixel blending and saturated colors to create layered images, hence, manipulating the image through various graphics programs.

The series is personal to her as she uses numerous photos of family from various time periods.

“I like it because of its ability to speak to and about generations past and present,” said Boone, noting it’s a work that even initiates conversation among her own family as she didn’t only use photos of family members she knew.

Overall Boone’s work is based in identity, investigates family history and explores themes of the African-American family unit and the relationships within these units. Images are heavily abstracted at times and imply personal, dreamlike narratives. 

Initially drawing was her passion, and she assures the most reticent student, “I can teach you to look so you can draw. It’s all about training the eye.”

The Great Bridge High graduate earned her bachelor’s of fine arts in painting and printmaking from VCU and followed that up with a master of fine art in painting from Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute. Living in New York City offered her the opportunity to “be on a field trip for two years” given the plethora of galleries and museums.

“There’s no other experience I’d trade it for,” she said.

Fellowships at the Vermont Studio Center and the School of the Art Institute in Chicago offered her additional opportunities to expand her already versatile portfolio, which even includes life-size portrait of jazz artists including Ella Fitzgerald.

In addition to teaching a Saturday Fundamentals of Design class at TCC, she has been an art educator at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy for the last five years. Most of her free time is spent inside her Suffolk studio making art or outside with a camera. Photography is another focus. She prefers portraits and Suffolk’s rural landscape, home to many in her family.

“I always tell my students can’t is a word people use when they don’t feel like trying harder, so try harder because I know you can,” she said. “You just have to do it.”