NATURE IS MY RELIGION AND EARTH IS MY TEMPLE
My name is Melina Nikolina and I'm a self-taught Silversmith and Artist, born in the verdant landscape and thick fog of the Puget Sound on Whidbey Island in Washington State.
Not long after I was born, my Mother left the Pacific Northwest and headed to Southern California to be closer to my maternal grandparents who were a Greek immigrant family, and naturally drawn to the more Mediterranean climate of San Diego. It was there where I spent many of my formative years, not far from the border of Mexico, surrounded by the language and culture.
My Papoú(Grandfather in Greek), nurtured my creativity early on. We were very close as the only two artists in our family of mostly healthcare workers. He taught me to paint as soon as I could hold a brush, and we adorned the house with large murals of the Greek Islands, his beloved homeland. I would watch him build, sculpt and even invent new tools. He was a house painter and contractor by trade, and his hands were always busy. I'm a lot like him in that way. I thank the sea and stars for him for encouraging my free and creative spirit. He and I used to go outside every evening to say goodnight to the Moon. I still do.
The name LunaLupa was inspired by many things. One, being a nickname “MeLuna”, that some friends gave me during those early years. I look back with so much appreciation for growing up in a multicultural family and community.
I also live with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE. The word Lupus being a Latin word and used as a way of describing the disease as, "the bite of the wolf". I’m a wolfwoman through and through, and feel this name connected deep within me.
I have been fortunate in working and creating in some very interesting fields along my journey to silversmithing. I was a painter and sculptor throughout my youth and into my twenties. I went on to earn my degree in Costume Design while living in Los Angeles. I worked in the fast-paced fashion and entertainment industries for several years before realizing that lifestyle was much too over-stimulating to my sensitive nature.
I ended up stepping away from what I felt was a very hectic way of life, as I felt so powerfully called to work on my own art and to create independently.
I eventually made my North again. I could not deny the pull to be back where I was born. Today, I live, work and create in Portland, Oregon aka Chinook land. The Pacific Northwest and the richness of the Cascadian landscape will always feel like an integral part of my being.
I have a deep love and affinity for creating and working in three dimensional form. I even dabbled with creating my own jewelry at one point while working as a Costume Designer in Los Angeles. But, never learned to use a torch or to solder. This was until I found a retired man in a small town, on the Columbia River in Washington. He offered an introductory class that taught the basics of metalsmithing tools and safety. I signed up immediately and have not stopped learning, creating and experimenting since. I have been entirely self-taught since that initial safety class. I am so in love with every aspect of it. It's the medium I was always searching for. I lose myself in it completely, and time disappears.
My inspiration arises from the vastness of the cosmos, the stable density of earth, the emotion of water, the invisible messages in the ether, the excitement of fire, the changing seasons, the cycles, rituals, forests, oceans, animals, the ancients and all of Nature.
Every piece I create is unique and one-of-a-kind. I put time, love and dedication into every bit of my work. I use top quality Sterling and Fine Silver and occasionally make pieces using bits of solid bronze or brass. I never use filled or plated materials, and use recycled metals whenever possible. I source the highest quality stones and gems from only the most reputable lapidary artists and dealers.
Some pieces I create vintage, aged and ancient feelings with patinas and other pieces are more refined. I let my intuition and the metal guide me.
I often channel my ancestors and animal allies by including their symbols and messages in my work. I try to honor all peoples and creatures by creating reminders of our connection to each other and most of all The Great Mystery of this thing we call life. We are brothers and sisters, related to all humans, animals, plants and all of Nature.
Connection is our truth.