A friend’s snapshot
Melody and I raised our children together, so I got to know her as a friend before I knew her as an artist. Interestingly it didn’t matter because all facets of her life are fueled by passion and her ability to be fully present in the moment whatever that moment happens to be. Because she is never without her cameras, she captures life as it unfolds in Mississippi.
Her perspective is informed but not sentimental or romanticized. She understands beauty and truth exist in the depths of devastation as well as at the heights of joy. Often despair and joy crisscross in the same experience.
One of my favorite stories about Melody that, at least for me, captures who she is involves her book, Katrina: Mississippi Women Remember.
When it became obvious that Katrina was going to slam into the Gulf Coast, Melody opened her home to family and friends who were fleeing the storm. Hotels in Vicksburg were filled to overflowing as were churches and public buildings.
She spent her days working as a Red Cross volunteer collecting and distributing goods to those who had been displaced. When the immediate threat of the storm had passed and only the wreckage remained, she prepared to drive her sister-in-law back to Ocean Springs, a hard hit area. Preparations included taking all of the seats out of her vehicle, so she could carry MREs and water to the disaster survivors. At the last minute, she put her cameras in the car.
When she saw the overwhelming devastation, Melody was moved by the healing power of art.
She said, “I felt like my art could make a difference. People were just scrambling for survival, so I’d hand out an MRE and take a photograph, hand out water and take a photograph—and always listen to the stories they needed to tell.” —Lauret Jarvis
The official portrait
Melody Golding is an author, photographer and artist living in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
The Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History Archives Center acquired her solo documentary exhibit; Katrina: Mississippi Women Remember and also her documentary photography and oral history project on Panther Tract: Wild Boar Hunting in the Mississippi Delta. Her photographs are on display in the Congressional Hearing Room at the Department of Homeland Security and have been featured in solo exhibitions at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., and at numerous universities, colleges and museums.
Melody’s three books published by The University Press of Mississippi are:
- Katrina: Mississippi Women Remember
- Panther Tract: Wild Boar Hunting in the Mississippi Delta
- Life Between the Levees (releasing Spring 2019)
Her photography has also been published by The John Hopkins University Press, Journal of Women’s Studies. Her work has been featured and published by the London, England-based Royal Photographic Society Awards Journal. Her work is in private and public collections and she has written for various statewide publications.
I try to capture in my work a sense not only of timelessness but also of grace. To convey an observance of order out of the usual chaos of visual forms. God has given me this gift to share what I see in this world both as a patient and ardent observer and as a participant in what I see, with the camera being the conduit of expression in my photography. For me, photography is a visual communication that is an adventure absolutely fueled by relentless challenge. When the photography and adventure become one, the experience is exponential.” — Melody Golding (melodygolding.com)