Melrick Steele: Inspiring Change through Art

Melrick Steele. Photo by @myartyoureyes

Melrick Steele. Photo by @myartyoureyes

 

Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Melrick Steele began drawing when he was four years old. Fast forward to today. He is a painter and a tattoo artist, featured twice in Urban Ink Magazine. With his painting especially, he is constantly looking out for ways he can support his community and help improve the lives of other Chicagoans through art.

Melrick has done countless collaborations with local Chicago businesses like POGO sneaker store and Bu$yLife Clothing. At events, you can most often find him doing live art, like beautiful body painting work using bold and bright colors. He has customized shoes for athletes including the Cleveland Browns’ Odell Beckham Jr. His work, however, is not limited to fashion.

“I’ve been inspired through various cultures. I’m inspired by the everyday life.”

Melrick at POGO.

Melrick at POGO.

For some, everyday life is a struggle, especially in a city like Chicago. Melrick uses a little pop of color to brighten the lives of fellow Chicagoans. Towards the end of 2018, he did a mural for the Albany Park Community Center’s South Side expansion.  The nonprofit works to help immigrants have an easier transition to life in the United States. Over the years, he has also donated his art pieces to La Rabida’s Children’s Hospital and has partnered with other entrepreneurs to help feed Chicago’s homeless population.  

 His work doesn’t stop there. With an increasing amount of health research pointing to the importance of maintaining a healthy mind through some kind of therapy, Melrick has decided to take part in the Emoji Art Show at the beginning of August in Chicago.

 “We’re at a time now where there is a lot of killing happening. It’s good to try to influence people who are attracted to my work to gravitate towards something positive.”

 The violence that’s happening throughout Chicago has a horrible effect on its youth. Just a few months ago a story of a missing boy made headlines. It turns out he didn’t want to come home because of the gunfire plaguing his neighborhood. The ambition to draw people to art, instead of guns, has to be recognized and supported.

Art by Melrick.

Art by Melrick.

As Melrick is working to show, the importance of art and the everyday is undeniably significant. He takes his experiences and paints them, sometimes on paper, sometimes on bodies, other times on walls. He is not limited to one canvas, and the lives he aims to touch will be changed forever.

For more of his work, follow Melrick on Instagram @Melricktattedup.  

Author

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Gosia Labno is a photographer and writer based in Chicago. She holds a B.S. in Media and Cinema Studies and an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies. She is working on a collection of short stories chronicling the lives of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Follow.