The Washhouse: Nothing Ever Happened Here
In her most recent series of artwork, Melanie Vote depicts and reproduces parts of a real-life aging washhouse (an outbuilding for which people once used to wash their belongings) in rural Iowa at near life size. Bathed in the warm glowing light of summer evenings, the green shadows, created by the surrounding orchestra of plant life, animate the peeling surfaces of the doors and windows.
The structure stands as a monolithic testament of time enveloped in the natural world. Vote is compelled to paint pieces of the dilapidated building rather than its whole, as to depict them as artifacts or extracted fragments of history. The dissected parts of the building are installed alongside its skeletal framework in three dimensions.
Additionally, the paintings and objects serve as evidence of human life remaining within the landscape. She and her artwork asks questions of who lived here, what has become of them, and what mark have they left behind?
In this series, Vote derives inspiration from the poem Grass by Carl Sandburg. It speaks of the human urge for progress at-all-costs, juxtaposed with the intense prowess of the natural world. Summarily, the project investigates and invents a quiet yet stirring history of a seemingly banal place.