Melissa F. Kaelin is a painter, writer and poet residing in Apple Valley, Minnesota. She is a self-taught artist, who paints under her maiden name to honor her past.
After an automobile accident killed four people in her immediate family in 2011, Melissa turned to art for therapy and healing. She picked up a paintbrush for the first time that year, letting mindful brush strokes transport her to a place of peacefulness and tranquility. Her paintings juxtapose darkness and shadow with brilliant light.
For Melissa, the inspiration for each painting comes from the interplay of complicated grief and the beauty of life. The resulting images capture the rare beauty that appears at twilight, after sunlight parts the storm. website
Finding the artwork for the cover of a chapbook can be both difficult and delightful. In the case of Joe Wilkin's "We Had To Go On Living" I knew what I wanted, but lacked a source. The image had to have a river. The image I wanted had to be a silhouette. And trees are always good. While wandering around at an Art Crawl on Sunday afternoon I happened upon Melissa's images and I knew then and there I wanted one of her images on the cover of Joe's chapbook. Not only the silhouette form but the colors seemed right. Melissa's story, her turn to art as a means of comfort and healing all made sense, seemed to fit with Joe's essays.
We corresponded, found a few images that might work (her collection of work can be seen on her website) and then Joe got to choose which he thought would be best. I am pleased with the cover, the chapbook and Red Bird is honored and blessed to have Melissa F. Kaelin as one of our cover artists.