As a teaching artist Melodee Strong guides students in the practice of an illustrator. Even with her mural projects, Melodee is working as an illustrator. There is a process of research and idea-making for the final design. She likes to articulate and provide a visual for that community's voice. That's really the bottom line of her philosophy: lending a voice to those communities that often times are not given an opportunity to speak their truth or reality. Melodee also wants to bring beauty and identity to places of the surrounding community so they feel like they belong, they matter and they can contribute.
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Melodee's hope is that students will learn not only the techniques of a painter but also gain an appreciation for the art form. It's not just "paint-by-number". It's working in layers of color and when it comes to mural work, it takes a lot of teamwork and planning. Melodee knows not everyone she works with will become an artist but she hopes they will become an advocate for the arts through their experience dedicating hard work and time to making their creation.
Melodee received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in Illustration. She works as a freelance illustrator and community artist. She teaches for Minneapolis Public Schools and for Continuing Education at MCAD. Melodee has participated in many gallery exhibitions, book readings, as well as presented to an array of audiences throughout her career, including Target’s Children’s Book Festivals in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, New York, and Boston. Her illustrations have received several awards from the Society of Illustrators Los Angeles and Society of Illustrators New York, and received Teacher’s Choice, Mom’s Choice, and Moonbeam Awards for her illustrations in children’s books. She has completed over 35 mural and large-scale projects in the Twin Cities. She is currently a teaching artist mentor for Perpich Center for the Arts in their outreach programming for Arts Integration in K-12 education.