painting of a jungle in lush green colors

After the End

November 4, 2017
December 15, 2017
Melissa Loop

Opening Reception: Saturday, November 4, 6 – 8 p.m.

All events are free and open to the public.

Painter Melissa Loop uses images from her travels to explore notions of how we form assumptions about authenticity, place and spirituality through our ill-informed ideas of other cultures. Loop’s experience of ancient Mayan sites is used as a metaphor to process our current cultural anxiety related to some foreboding, dystopian future.

Melissa Loop is a contemporary painter living in Minneapolis. Her work has been exhibited at venues throughout the United States, including Breeze Block Gallery in Portland, OR; grayDuck Gallery in Austin, TX; and Yes.Oui.Si Space in Boston, MA. A well-known Twin Cities artist, her paintings have been featured in shows at the Minnesota Museum of American Art, Burnet Gallery, Soo Visual Art Center, Art of This and Rosalux Gallery. Her paintings have also been on view in international exhibitions at the National Galleries in Edinburgh, Scotland and at the Direktorenhaus Museum for Arts, Crafts and Design in Berlin, Germany. She is a 2013 and 2017 recipient of the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant, a 2012 Jerome Foundation Fellow and a 2006 Vanderlip Travel Grant awardee. Rebecca Wilson, chief curator for Saatchi, named Loop an “Artist to Watch.” Saatchi also recognized Loop in their “Best of 2014” compilation of artists. Loop’s paintings have been featured in print and on-line publications such as New American Paintings, Beautiful/Decay, Boooom!, Create Mag, Jealous Curator, the Walker Art Center Blog and the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Loop’s work is included in collections nationally and internationally. She is represented by grayDUCK Gallery in Austin, TX and Johassen Gallery in Berlin.


Melissa Loop

I use my travels to explore notions of how we form assumptions about authenticity, place and spirituality through our ill-informed ideas of other cultures. After the End is inspired by my trips to Central America in 2012 and 2015 when I visited the ancient Mayan sites of Caracol, Xunantunich, Calal Pech, Tikal, Yasha, Palenque, Edina, Xpujil, Calakmul, Tulum, Coba and Chichen Itza. While my paintings are based on reality, my compositions are purposefully invented in an attempt to recreate rare moments of spiritual transcendence one encounters when taking a pilgrimage to a sacred place. However authentic in desire, this attempt is always in conflict with the reality of being a tourist and an outsider in someone else's culture. The duality of this experience serves as a metaphor for our current cultural anxieties about a potentially foreboding future. Our Pax Americana of the present, with leaders who create a Theater State to keep control, and the impending ecological collapse from our entry into the Anthropocene age, seems reminiscent of the great and mysterious fall of the Mayans. What’s left of their civilization becomes an effective symbol for processing the present. In an era of “fake news” and during a culturally turbulent time in our nation’s history, my paintings explore the space between imagination and reality, spiritual transcendence and skepticism, dream and actuality, hope and despair. How will future generations interpret this particular point in our history?

Despite the darkness of such themes, my exhibition title – After the End – does not refer to a dystopic end. Instead, it signifies the 2012 completion of the Mayan calendar, an event that celebrated a completed cycle. It became recognized as a time for new beginnings rather than the end of time. This idea of renewal brings me hope, something I often thought about while sitting on those ancient temples, and a sentiment expressed each time I create a new painting.

Each painting is made with acrylic on canvas primed with absorbent ground. The paint oozes and drips from the canvas because I spray water onto the wet paint to soften the edges of the forms. This is an intentional process – the paintings evoke the humid climate of the places I visited, while conveying dream-like imagery that reinforces the transcendental allure of the Mayan sites. Electric oranges, magentas and yellows pulse through the earthy browns, ochres, greens and blacks. The brush strokes are spare and use economy of mark to evoke the idea of a thing, or a landscape, rather than trying to recreate with accuracy. 

Melissa Loop is a fiscal year 2017 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.


Melissa Loop shares her influences, methods and processes behind her work.