Exciting reds. Calming blues. Bright, bold colors.
Dramatic contrast. Feel the emotions. Experience the
action. Hear the singing through the combination of the
religious subject matter and the rich, vivid colors on
the canvas. Listen to the loud voices in praise and
worship. An African-American church. An Apostolic
church. And can you miss the in flooding of light?
Flooding the paintings with the Light. With the Spirit.
With spirituality only attained in such atmospheres as
this. These paintings show the saints in worship.
Expending their very souls to just say thank-you.
Capturing them in their moment of gratitude for
deliverance from themselves, their previous
circumstances and their daunting lives. “I will bless
the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be
in my mouth… Magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt
his name together…This poor man cried, and the Lord
heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles... O
taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man
that trusteth in him Psalm 34:1, 3, 6, and 8.” These
worshippers wonder how such a great, big, all-powerful
God could love such a one so messed up and raggedy. They
will continue to worship; continue to revere the
Almighty One, and I too will be among the grateful ones
for God’s faithfulness beyond measure. I will continue
to be there, capturing the wonderful scenes that will
become paintings. My work captures the spirituality,
vitality and energy of the religious experiences in the
Apostolic church. They are a celebration of my
African-American heritage and directly reflect the
greatest passion in my life. I think about church all
day long and when I sleep, I dream about it.
Going to church and drawing strength from church is the
most worthwhile portion of my life. Church enhances my
way of living. It is the only constant that will ever be
in my life. Without church I am incomplete. The love for
God, my church and my family is the most extreme passion
in my life and is conveyed through the work that I do.
Melissa Danette Smith is a young, African-American woman
painter who explores the excitement and spirituality
within the Apostolic church using rich, vivid, and bold
colors and contrast. Having attained her BFA from The
Ohio State University, she is now pursuing her MFA in
painting and drawing, while teaching a beginning drawing
course at OSU. She has received numerous awards, grants
and scholarships and has her works on display in many
collections including the Ohio Union at OSU. She also
has her work in the collection of Mr. Wynton Marsalis.