The Guardian of Fledgling

Picture your Grandmother’s attic, painted white with tilted ceilings bending & stretching to the roofline, relics of daydreaming woodland creatures come to seek haven and forever lost in this twinkle lit place.  There in the middle stands the gate keeper, a tall, slender woman who makes jeans and a beanie look beautiful.  The creatures love her.  She is the guardian of their souls, capturing their eternal life in chipped away birch and paint. 

This strange paradise is Fledgling Press.  The guardian is Melissa Schlobohm, an artist and now friend I met a few years back here in Beacon, NY. Her work is magical, sometimes unnerving, truly embodying the life of her muse into a print to be hung and blushed at with each viewing eye.

I’d say most of my inspiration comes from my love of traveling and studying the ecology of animals.  My first roadtrip around the country when I was in college was completely breath taking.  The vast array of landscapes, creatures and people in our very own home was very enlightening.  The handful of times I’ve been able to snorkel in coral reefs have been some of my favorite life experiences.  In addition, I am continually blown away by the process of natural selection and how animals have adapted to their environment over millions of years.  I love learning about how and why animals are structured the way they are to survive.  I think this is also why I love carving animals with such unique adaptations, they can almost be alien like!”

“..they are so special!  I think there is so much to learn from animals and about them.  They’ve been around for so much longer than us and come in so many shapes and sizes, live and interact in so many different ways and shape our world.  I especially love figuring out how to carve their different textures to capture them two dimensionally in a way that is telling about their identity.

I always thought my spirit animal was a moose.  My first tattoo is actually the moose antlers I have in my lower lip.  I love how immense they are (I’m really tall) and exist around us almost out of site.  Their antlers are also the fastest growing organ of any animal and that is magical to me.  But over the years I think I’m more like (or would like to be like) a manatee.  They get to do what they love all day, graze in the sun, play and hangout with their buds.  Sounds like a dream to me.”

photo by Garrison Art Center, where Melissa had a gallery showing

“I think something that is funny is how I became a printmaker was a happy accident.  I originally went to school to study sculpture but I got a terrible drawing number for classes my sophomore year and relief printmaking was the only class open to fill my credit requirement.  It was very intimidating for me not only because I found it so challenging but was in a class with mostly all upper classmen.  I have never really loved drawing and trying to figure out how to make a print when not only is the image backwards so is everything about the execution.  The challenge to get better and the specific processes got me coming back every semester from then on.

With a show coming up in September, (I’m currently working on) recreating old masterpieces of women.”

I asked Melissa a few more questions, wanting to capture the full spectrum of who this detailed mind, dissector of beautiful creatures really was. You know the important things.

What is one thing you can’t live without?
“Right about now I’d like to say my unalienable rights as a WOMAN in this country but I’ll settle for milkshakes and bacon, my favorite breakfast!”

If you could leave my readers with some of your own words of wisdom, what would you tell the world? “Do what you love and be generous.” 

Like her art, I love that.  Thanks Melissa.

Follow Melissa on Instagram at @fledglingpress

Or shop her prints, like the one below!

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