Artist sharing stories of Comstock residents through photography

A New Zealand native is visiting Silver City to help tell the stories of longtime Comstock residents.

Frances Melhop, voted “One of the World’s 200 Best Advertising Photographers” for 2009-2010 by Luerzers Archive, is bringing her skills to the Resident Artist Program in Silver City this summer. She’s setting up a temporary studio at the Silver City School House this month, photographing several Comstock residents for an exhibition planned next year at the Haldan Art Gallery at Lake Tahoe Community College.

As part of the project, portrait subjects are invited to record personal or Comstock stories to accompany their photos. Silver City native Mary Works Covington, known for her film, “Rockin’ at the Red Dog,” and for her work as assistant sound and/or dialog editor for films such as “Titanic,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “The English Patient,” is providing technical assistance with the recordings.

Based in Australia for a decade, then in Milan, Italy, for the next decade, Melhop is known in Europe and the South Pacific as a creator of unique imagery in the fashion and advertising arena. Her photographs have appeared in European magazines such as Vogue Italia, Vogue France, British Vogue, and Glamour, to Face, ID, Purple, Marie Clarie Italia, Elle, Vogue Pelle, Vogue Gioello, and D della Repubblica.

Photographs from her fairy-tale inspired series — which she describes as “an imaginary world of tall-tales, dreams, games of scale, surreality and story-telling” — have been exhibited in Paris, Cannes, Rome, Albuquerque, and locally in Virginia City and Reno.

Now living in Nevada, Melhop has continued to produce work on the Comstock and beyond, including portraits of Virginia City residents, and panoramic portraits of the Burning Man arts and music festival. As a resident of Nevada for the last five years, her attention has turned to “portraiture and its geographical and biographical content.”

Born in New Zealand, Melhop attended the University of Canterbury where she studied Psychology, German language, Philosophy and Political Science, then the Sydney Institute of Technology, Australia where she studied technical photography for three years. With courses soon to be completed at the University Nevada Reno School of Fine Art, she plans to teach at the university level in the U.S.

The project is sponsored through the Resident Artist Program of Silver City, with assistance from photography interns Cora Jeffreys and Ava Covington, and additional support from Healthy Communities Coalition of Lyon and Storey.


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