Melissa WashburnValparaiso, IN, US
I create layered, expressive mixed-media illustrations inspired by the natural world. My influences range from 18th century natural history illustration to contemporary editorial illustration and fine art printmaking. I have been lucky enough to have a career working in some aspect of the arts for two decades now, and I love to constantly learn new things. I live in the Midwest with my family, which includes a rescued greyhound.
Maps By Melissa Washburn
My happy place is outdoors, and there are amazing places to hike all over the Lake Michigan/Indiana Dunes area where I live. Just blocks from my house I'm lucky to have a bike path that winds through a small wetland area alive with migratory birds, butterflies, other insects, and native plants. It's a calming, centering part of my day to walk this path and observe the changes throughout the year. On my daily walks I've added new species to my bird life list, run into friends, and improved my fitness level. All of which make me, well... HAPPY!
My husband is an astronomy professor, so when I saw the Out of This World challenge, I just KNEW I had to submit. I asked him for a list of his favorite things in the universe, and had him write out some notes. A few of these fascinating phenomena, like the Pleiades, are visible with the naked eye; others, like the Eagle Nebula, have been photographed beautifully by the Hubble Space Telescope. Some are named for the constellations in which they appear, while others get their names from the objects they resemble. The universe may be mostly made of empty space, but everywhere you look, there's beauty.
I had the opportunity to visit Detroit in July for the ICON10 Illustration conference. One of the events was a tour of many of the public art spots in the city, and many local artists/activists spoke at the conference. I was blown away by the amount of grassroots engagement in art and placemaking, helping transform the city in a positive way. This map includes the Instagram handles for many of the artists and institutions I had the pleasure of learning about. I hope you'll give them a follow and learn more.
I grew up in New York. The *other* New York - the vast expanse of farmland and wilderness that comprises almost everything outside New York City. The town I grew up in, in Fulton County (just northeast of the counties on the map), was the center of the leather and glove making industry during World War II and into the 1950s and '60s. I always assumed that the Leatherstocking Region took its name from the leather trade. However, instead it comes from James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales, a series of books that includes The Last of the Mohicans.
Being a bird lover, it's wonderful to live so close to Lake Michigan, one of the major stopping points in the country for migratory birds. Located a little over an hour outside Chicago, the Indiana Dunes region of the Lake Michigan Shoreline boasts over 350 species of birds that can be seen throughout the year. Birders from all over visit during spring migration for the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival each May.
I had the opportunity to spend a week in and around Medellin, Colombia this summer. One of the highlights was visiting a 400-acre coffee farm out in the nearby countryside, and the city itself is a clean, beautiful, bustling place full of colorful sights and friendly people. This piece is a collage of impressions of each of the areas I visited during my trip.