We had the good fortune of connecting with merrilee challiss and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi merrilee, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Why did you choose an artistic or creative career? In my case, having walked the path of the creative for several decades by this point, the route has always been circuitous, if sometimes oblique. Being a creative, means being open, adaptive and responsive to changing circumstances – being able to improvise, or pivot, is a most valuable skill. My path as a creative, for better or worse, seems fated. Just as it was clear from a young age that I had artistic leanings, my growing reticence as a young adult to conform to a “normal” job, further solidified my path as a creative. The process of making art is a way I “interface” with the world, working my way through ideas and concepts towards a greater understanding. Over the years I have worked multiple jobs to support my income/ decades of making art. I am always making art, whether or not it is “selling” at the moment. My experience on the artist’s path has much more in common with the tidal cycles or the journey of the archetypes than a traditional career path might, with its seemingly predictable trajectory of upward economic mobility. Despite the highs and lows, economic instability, and often crushing rejection, the path of the artist has revealed to me just how much I value my autonomy and my time. Onward ho!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Over the years I have become increasingly interested in how art is / can be a catalyst for societal change. I feel my work in the world (even in my narrow sliver of influence within the greater energetic spectrum) is to elevate the divine feminine, and to recalibrate and rebalance the energy of the human project towards healing the world. The greatest lesson I have learned is to never give up.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Birmingham, Alabama Birmingham Civil Rights Institute – history Joe Minter’s African Village – visionary art installation Dismal’s Canyon – day hike Shu Shop Izakaya – vegan ramen Garage Cafe – drinks on the patio
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shoutout to the (too many to mention) many mentors, clients, collectors and curators who have stood fast in their belief of my vision over the years – thank you! Specifically, I would like to give a shoutout to two visionary women, Anne Trondson and Melissa Yes, who run a new contemporary art space, Vinegar Projects, in Birmingham, Alabama. The greater art community of Birmingham, in the wake of the George Floyd protests, is also worthy of a shoutout. as they have been covering the downtown area, where I live, in powerful, colorful murals highlighting the importance of reckoning with our racist history in this pivotal time.
Facebook: Merrilee Challiss
Portrait photo by MaDora Frey Art photos by Jonathan Purvis