This project began in 2011 when my grandfather, Roy Mellott, a 78 year-old retired truck driver began drawing ideas for me.
At the time, I was an art student at Slippery Rock University, a small town school in a western Pennsylvania. I became interested in pottery through the idea of gifting. I liked the thought that I could put time and effort into making a specific object, for a specific person to use and interact with in a specific way, to change that person’s experience. This has always seemed like a good way to understand what art can be— a force that manifests a transcendent moment within daily life. I began by making enormous beer mugs for my roommates.
Around this time, my grandfather began asking me a lot of questions about my artwork. He wanted to know if I was selling the things I was making, how much I would charge for them, if I wanted to set up a store, etc. His questions were open-minded and curious. He was genuinely interested. He, like many people, wasn’t quite sure how artwork was valued, or even defined, especially within our rural community.
One day, my grandfather was watching Antiques Roadshow when he saw a ceramic vase appraised at a couple thousand dollars. This gave him a simple idea— I should make that vase. He pulled open a word search book and made several sketches on the blank pages within the front and back covers, thinking that if I made that same piece, I ought to be able to sell it for the same amount.
The next time I visited, he showed me his drawings. They were loose, proud, imaginative, and much better ideas than the vase he was trying to render. I decided that what I wanted to make were the new forms he’d created.
This began an ongoing exchange between the two of us. Every now and then he would sketch a few ideas based on things he’d see on TV or dreamed up on his own. Then I would build a few forms based on his drawings, attempting to bring his line quality and unexpected ideas into three-dimensional space. This went on for several years, over which he gave me several books of drawings pulling increasingly from his own imagination.