Natural Language: Paintings by Melissa Koch

January 21 – March 4, 2023

“The earth and the life that abounds on this planet are part of a great mystery. This is what I work to capture in my art through the layers of color, pattern and imagery. Despite the dense layers of civilization, our busy lives and our mobile phones, if we pause for a moment, we discover that we are not so very far away from our origins, and that nature has the power to bring us back to a place of tranquility, silence, and surprise.” – Melissa Koch


Color and form, pattern and myth – these elements serve painter Melissa Koch well in her expressions of nature and our cultural role within it. Animals, flowers, trees, humans – forms that are familiar, but abstracted into silhouettes, transforming nature into wayfaring signs for exploration. That transformation brings a power representational versions might not. Silhouettes themselves carry a deep significance to American culture, particularly the 18th and 19th century, in which they served as an inexpensive portraiture for the masses.

Melissa’s figures also reference myth and storytelling. The juxtaposition of flora and fauna with shapes and patterns of color form a visual language we want to learn. The images are soft and the colors inspire our imagination.

Melissa is a visual artist, educator, and advocate for environmental justice. She grew up on a Greek island, studied architecture in England and further evolved her arts practice in Belgium. Upon returning to the United States, she spent many years teaching youth about sustainability as part of a program she co-created with a Haida master canoe carver. Together with the youth and community they carved a number of ocean-going canoes. Melissa’s current art-making process is focused on inspiring conversations about transformation, healing, and protecting the natural environment. She currently lives on Whidbey Island and is active in the arts and finding ways to best serve the local community in uplifting and creative ways.

Paintings are available for sale unless marked by a red dot. Please contact the artist directly to purchase: Melissa Koch’s work can be viewed online at

– Gina Cavallo, Curator, Director of Development, Taproot Theatre