Melodee Strong

Melodee Strong has been drawing and painting since she can remember and has always regarded herself as an artist. At an early age, Melodee began receiving recognition for her artwork from her school and community by receiving many awards. Growing up in rural Minnesota, Melodee didn’t have many resources to draw from as far as influence other then what she was exposed to at school or on television. The paintings of Ernie Barnes are what inspired Melodee to become an artist. Most people may recognize his work from the closing credits of the T.V. show Good Times. Melodee admired his figurative style, color, and subject matter. It was the first time she saw paintings with people of color.

Today, Melodee draws inspiration from many of the things around her. Her South American heritage, the African American community, The Harlem Renaissance, early Hip Hop culture, urban style and street art, and film influence her work greatly. Even though one may not see a direct connection to those influences in her art, murals and illustrations, they act as a starting point or vehicle in her process. For stylistic influence, Melodee usually draws her inspiration from artists such as Jacob Lawrence, Aaron Douglas, Diego Rivera, Pablo Picasso, Mercedes Matter, and many contemporary artists like Kadir Nelson and Kehinde Wiley.

The most important goal Melodee strives for in her work is communicating positive ideas and images about the people and culture in her community and family. She strives in providing a social, political, and cultural voice for a group of people that may be misunderstood, misrepresented, and stereotyped. She wants to create work that not only illustrates the beauty and strength of a multicultural kaleidoscope of people but also create work that is identifiable and relatable to those that are usually ignored.


Melodee Strong received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in Illustration. She works as a freelance illustrator, muralist, and instructor at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Melodee has participated in many gallery exhibitions, book readings, as well as presented to an array of audiences throughout her career, including Target’s Children’s Book Festivals in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, New York, and Boston. Her illustrations have received several awards from the Society of Illustrators Los Angeles and Society of Illustrators New York. She has also received Teacher’s Choice, Mom’s Choice, and Moonbeam Awards for her illustrations in children’s books.