Storytelling through both language and visual arts has been a rewarding career. One of Melodye's more noted award-winning illustrative works - the original Addy; An American Girl (Pleasant Co.) brought attention to her talents, but also awakened her sense of social justice. After Ms. Rowland (Pleasant Co. CEO) wanted all of her American Girl heroines to be cookie-cut-outs from the same experiences, sans era, location and ethnicity, Melodye realized her creative influences would have to expand outside of the comforts of mainstream children's publishing.
Children must not only read historical accuracy in literature, but they must see art and illustrations as their window into the world, especially when that visual reference may be the only opportunity to connect with individuals who do not live next door—or in the came social circles.
Driven by a global sense for the one degree of separation theory, Melodye has refocused her creative objectives to incorporate what she terms, underdeveloped groups within society. This includes, but is not limited to, incarcerated communities; gang members and other inner-city groups, families; urban, rural and impoverished communities; low literacy learners, ESL, and immigrant families; first generation families from a different country, as well as those whose offspring are first to graduate high school or college.
For the world we live in, it is important to bring all of these images into intellectual discourse, using art as the root by which we grow inquisitive minds and breed a social consciousness that effectively serves humanity. After studying art at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College, Melodye lived in Barcelona, traveling throughout Europe and Northern Africa, as well as spending time as an author/illustrator-in-residence at Jakarta International Schools (Indonesia).
During her 35 years in publishing, serving on boards such as Literacy Chicago and reading educational grants for the Illinois Arts Council, developing a 501(c) 3 United Foundation for Arts & Technology (UFAT), Melodye found the time and energy to raise a family, with two of her three children extending that family into families of their own. "I continue to live a rich and colorful life", she says, "...and always viewing that life through the social justice spectrum I continually draw creative energy from."