Melissa Cook does extremely realistic graphite drawings. But this particular series of plastic bag self portraits are extra frightening. Says the artist:


The “Vacuum” series ascribes to the devices of melancholia in order to explore society’s fascination with violence, death and insanity. In this series I create a fictional, tortured persona in order to fulfill the stereotype of the tragic artist. Within my avatar, I am able to exaggerate the characteristics of the crazy, unstable, melancholic artist in order to question its glorification and validity.

As I spend time analyzing, drawing, and observing this character, role-playing and fantasy can transform into reality. I become more aware of my day-to-day struggles. Everyone is faced with their own sadness, but what is considered to be true tragedy? The plastic bubble creates it’s own environment that can offer protection and separation from the outside and its elements. Is there something I need protection from? The bubble also carries threats of its own. By depriving myself of air, I am depriving myself of one of life’s basic needs. What other primal urges are denied?

The clear plastic bag also serves as a technical challenge. I am searching for a balance between clarity and expressiveness, allowing smoothness to dissolve into distressed, scratchy marks. I am also interested in confronting viewers and bringing elements of emotion and controversy to the realm of Realism.