Frances Melhop is a photographer and visual artist, born in Christchurch, New Zealand, now living in the USA. She has worked globally in the fashion industry as a photographer, constructing imagery; conceptualizing, shooting, and directing stories for publications such as Vogue Italy editions, Vogue Australia, Elle Portugal, and Marie Claire Italy.
In 2009, Luerzer's Archive named Melhop one of The World’s 200 Best Advertising Photographers for the images she created for the campaign of Descamps, France. In 2014 she was awarded the NNDA Comstock Innovator of the Year Award for her arts and community work at St Mary’s Art Center, in Virginia City, Nevada.
Melhop’s work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions worldwide. With a primarily lens-based practice, she works in photography, stitching, printmaking, and oil paint, exploring portraiture and ideas of communication, selfhood and control.
Currently Melhop is teaching Drawing and Visual Foundations at TMCC, Printmaking at WNC and has taught Photography, Visual Foundations, Introduction to the Arts.
She completed her MFA at the University of Nevada, Reno, USA.
In December 2020 she opened the contemporary art gallery, Melhop Gallery º7077, at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, representing 12 national and international artists.
I work across various mediums including traditional and contemporary photographic processes to explore ideas of impermanence, control, selfhood, communication, and the act of portraiture.
Human touch, traces we leave and the anxiety of the disembodied space materialize as recurring themes throughout my work. This inquiry originates from my own recollections of the intensity of childhood sensory perception. Seeing how such sensory interactions have evolved with photography, screens and virtual spaces, that call for more and more of our attention, time, and connection, to the detriment of sleep and physical human interaction.
My work requires me to slow down, stop still, and contemplate, while making tangible artifacts by hand. Each body of work concerns how we currently experience the world, and which is more real to us, physical experience or the observed spectacles mediated by a screen.
I raise questions in response to my own fears of a diminishing sense of ourselves in the real world, where we are perhaps losing the ability to distinguish our human self-hood from our constructed identities, and whether we even care what is at stake.
Through a female lens my research and studio practice take shape, utilizing mediums including photography, printmaking, oil painting, fabric, stitching, and installation.
The current work emerges after 28 years as a photographer in the fashion industry, making images of women and girls specifically for women and girls. The work precedes and spans the arrival of the internet, the decimation of the magazine industry, and the increased agency we now have over our recorded histories. Perhaps our constructed identity or self-made history trails are the only things we have any semblance of control over today.