By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
Melissa Loop has always loved art, even at a young age. It wasn’t until high school that she explored the idea further.
“When I was in high school, I decided to push myself to see if I really had the chops for it,” she stated. “I started spending long hours everyday and I found that was where I felt most at home.”
Loop graduated from Monticello High School in 1999. She said it was the specialized “quest courses” she took while in high school that allowed her to express herself. Loop said these were independent study classes that students could “make up” and have a teacher advise them along the way.
“I was allowed to take several of these (courses) for different areas in art,” explained Loop. “This allowed me to learn how to have self direction as well as push and teach myself which is also the way that art school works so I was already well practiced in creating my own projects.”
She went on to earn her Bachelor of Fine Art degree from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
As an artist, Loop describes herself as a landscape painter.
“My paintings use the artifice of landscape painting to explore ideas of misconceptions, authenticity, desire in an age where we get most of our ideas about place through movies, CGI and Google,” Loop explained.
She said she uses Google Images, her own photographs and magazines as source material to collage her “fantasy landscapes that teeter between realism and abstraction.”
It is her unique art that impressed jurors from the Jerome Foundation Fellowship. After reviewing work of various Minnesota-based artists, Loop was selected as one of five emerging artists out of 245 applicants. As a recipient of the $10,000 award, the grant money can be used to purchase art materials, cover production costs and supplement living/travel costs. Loop said she plans to do some traveling in New York and Los Angeles over the year to see galleries and meet with other artists. She’s already been to Mexico and Belize.
She will also use some of the award money for larger paintings and save some of it for her next research venture at a later date.
“The award signifies that I am one of the top emerging artists in the state (Minnesota) and I am making ambitious and unique work,” Loop explained of her coveted prize. “This is the top award that I can receive at my level and it opens many doors for me to get into museums, galleries and meet with curators.”
Of her travel adventures, Loop said she has had the opportunity to meet so many new people that have aided in her art career.
“It is great to go to a completely different city and meet all new people who were excited about my work,” she said.
Her travels not only allow her to show off her skills and work, but help in giving her inspiration for the work that she does. Her travels to Mexico and Belize gave her great source material for her paintings.
“Early on there wasn’t much traveling that I could afford to do but things tend to expand exponentially in this kind of a career and now I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to fit everything into one year.”
Aside from showing off her work at her studio in Minnesota, Loop’s work has also been featured in national magazines and blogs!
She gets her inspiration from traveling, research and endless possibilities.
“So many unexpected things can become a seed for a painting. A story I hear, a color, a dream, a photo, a movie. Places I actively look are travel magazines, travel sites, museums, galleries, talking with other artists and travel.”
Engaged in a career one loves and enjoys is hard to find.
“It was the only real choice that made any sense to me,” Loop said of becoming an artist. “I decided a long time ago that I would rather fail at something I loved than do well at something I hated. I tend to be very stubborn and uncompromising (like my father).”
As an artist, Loop said she is able to “communicate a universal feeling of what it is like to live during this time through personal and subjective reactions to the world.
“Like the saying, ‘Artists use lies to tell the truth,’” Loop said in explaining her career.
Her advice to young people looking towards their own futures after high school, Loop said, “Talent is important, but it only goes so far. The rest is grit.”
She urges young people to go to where the job is and to be around a place and community of people who will support you.
“Also,” she noted, “don’t listen to people who say that you can’t do what you really want to do.” Loop said do what makes you happy and what you feel passionate about.
Loop is the daughter of Delbert and Barbara Loop of Monticello. She currently resides in Minneapolis.
To see her works of art, visit