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Finished and unfinished, Nelson’s art featured in July at CCAC

Finished and unfinished, Nelson’s art featured in July at CCAC
Featured July artist Melissa Nelson said this sculpture, called “Anthropomorphic Cat,” was designed as an example for a class project where students had to create work that had features of both humans and animals. The Charles City Arts Center will be holding a reception for Nelson, at 5 p.m. on Friday. (Press photo James Grob.)
By James Grob,

Art teacher Melissa Nelson believes that good art comes from hard work as much as it comes from talent — and sometimes, it can be weird.

“My students know that if it’s weird, I’m probably going to be excited about it,” said Nelson, who will be entering her sixth year of teaching art at New Hampton High School in the fall. Nelson will be the featured artist at the Charles City Arts Center for the month of July. There will be a reception for Nelson at the CCAC at 5 p.m. on Friday.

“Everything that you see in the show is something I’ve taught, will teach or do teach my students at New Hampton,” Nelson said. “I think there will be something for everyone to enjoy.”

Nelson’s show of eclectic artwork, which covers a wide range of disciplines, is entitled “Finished/Unfinished 2.0; Art as an Art Teacher.”

“I decided that I wanted to have a show that shows the process of things,” Nelson said. “I feel like, all too often, we see the finished product, and decide that we couldn’t create that. I want people to see that there are steps to each part, it’s not just talent, there’s a lot of hard work that gets through there.”

The variety of art on display throughout July will include clay, photography, printmaking, jewelry, paint, ceramics and drawing, among other things.

“I teach a little bit of everything,” she said. “I’m lucky enough to teach whatever catches my fancy.”

Nelson taught a class last year through the CCAC. She describes the art facility as “fantastic.” A native of Union, Nelson turned her initial love of creating artwork in the classroom into a career as an artist and art teacher. While working at Lennox in Marshalltown, she finished her associate of arts at MCC and moved on to the UNI for her bachelor’s in both sculpture and psychology.

Nelson returned to UNI in 2011, and graduated in 2014 with her degree in art education. She began teaching high school art in New Hampton that year. She returned to UNI for her master’s in art education, and just received that degree this past May.

“I decided I wanted to be able to teach dual credit art classes for college credit,” she said. “I am deeply interested in many media, and I try working in as many different ones as I can. Not only do I get to try new things myself, but I bring those media into my classroom as much as I can.”

Nelson said much of her creativity is fueled by her experiences as an educator.

“I’m inspired by my students, my fellow art educators online and in person, and by all that happens around me,” Nelson said.

Artist Molly Barrett will also be at the CCAC on Friday from 4-6 p.m. Barrett is a Charles City native who is now a professional artist in the Twin Cities. She will have a meet-and-greet session to talk about her metal sculpture, entitled “History in Shapes.” The public art committee of Charles City’s Community Revitalization is endorsing and helping to fundraise for the proposed metal sculpture.

The Public Art Committee has worked with the Park Board and City Improvement Association to identify several possible locations for the new sculpture, with the preferred site being near the Court Street end of the Main Street Bridge, next to the parking lot there and across the street from the Floyd County Courthouse. The fundraising goal for the project is $9,000.