Melissa Zink has died

By Tempo staff
Posted 7/16/09

Renowned local artist Melissa Zink has died after a long illness, according to a family friend. In a 2006 announcement for a show of hers at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, it was stated that Zink “has had a diverse and highly successful career …

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Melissa Zink has died

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Renowned local artist Melissa Zink has died after a long illness, according to a family friend. In a 2006 announcement for a show of hers at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, it was stated that Zink “has had a diverse and highly successful career creating richly complex works that reference the world of books.”

About her art, Zink said at the time, “I think it’s always been about ideas and language, the shapes of letters and the impact of words. Some artists follow landscape all their lives. Language is my landscape.”

Zink was born in Kansas City, Mo., in 1932 and received her formal education at Emma Willard School, Swarthmore College, Kansas City Art Institute, and University of Chicago.

In the late 1970s, after raising a daughter and operating a custom framing business, she was encouraged by her husband, Nelson, Zink, to devote herself full-time to a career as an artist.

She began experimenting with clay, creating dream-like dioramas peopled by art world figures and characters of her own creation. She gradually incorporated color and textures in these works using clay to suggest paper, fabric and other materials then adding painted and sculptural elements.

In the past decade, she has been experimenting with mixed media assemblages that draw on painting, drawing, printmaking, collage, stamping, and sculpture to create finely nuanced, intricately layered wall pieces.

Though Zink has explored new ideas and techniques with each new body of work, the central core of her art is books.

“The center I have been circling around and around is a private aesthetic formed from books and by books,” she said. “That aesthetic developed from the act of reading, the memories of reading, the literal companionship of books, the enchantments of photography, typography, graphic design, paper, leather, etc. Everything I find most beautiful and moving is in some way connected to books.”

Zink has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions including the University of New Mexico’s “Melissa Zink: Journeys 1977-1990”; an exhibition in 1993 at the University of Colorado Art Gallery, Boulder; a retrospective at the Roswell Museum of Art in 1996; and a 2002 survey at St. John’s College Fine Arts Gallery, Santa Fe.

She was honored as the New Mexico representative in the National Museum of Women in the Arts series of exhibitions, “From the States,” in Washington, D.C. in 2000 and was the recipient of the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence and Achievement in the Arts in 2001. Her work can be found in the collections of the Albuquerque Museum, Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, the Capitol Art Collection, State of New Mexico, the St. John’s College Library and the Harwood Museum of Art as well as myriad private collections.

For more on Zink’s impact and artistic legacy, see the Thursday (July 23) print edition of The Taos News.

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