By Rachel Wood and Angela Sellers
Stepping into the charming studio at Fit Columbia, each client is struck with a sense of calm and wonder. This feeling stems not only from the meditation and yoga classes that take place there, but additionally from the enormous mural that stretches gracefully across the back wall. The mural is the perfect addition to the new studio that is nestled next to a picturesque courtyard right in Five Points. The wall of windows that look out into the courtyard provides natural light that cascades across the piece and highlights its unique features.
A giant mandala, rightfully representing unity and harmony, is the heart of the masterpiece. The intricate purple design is highlighted by mirrors, golden acrylics and gold leaf. The center of the piece is surrounded by smaller mandalas in white, dark purple and lilac tones. All of this is sprawled across a teal lotus flower pattern background. The most intriguing part of the piece is only noticed upon close investigation. As you move closer to the wall, you begin to notice waves of words flowing across the piece. The quotes flowing along the wall elicit feelings of encouragement and empowerment. An example of one of the quotes swirling on the wall is “Never underestimate that.
Because you know what that means? There’s hope. It means that you’ll feel love and happiness. It means you’ll feel pride and joy. It means you’re still alive, but more than that, it means you’re still living. Stay strong. Stay beautiful.” Another quote that includes the name of the piece is “Never stop feeling. But sometimes, just breathe.”
The piece, named Just Breathe, was completed by local artist Melissa Ligon. Looking at this piece, you wouldn’t believe that the creator originally went to school to get a degree in dairy science. While obtaining her degree from Clemson University, Ligon ended up taking a couple of graphic design classes and enjoyed them. After graduating, she started working for a local printer and eventually moved to Columbia in 1985 and continued her career in graphic design. She has also been a freelance artist since 1999 after starting her own company art4money. Although she hasn’t always felt like an artist, she has always been drawn to color and experimenting with different techniques. Ligon enjoys making invitations, signs and other mixed media pieces. She has made several pieces for local restaurants, Motor Supply Co. and Sure Fire Tacos and Tortilla Grill, in the Vista. So far in her career, Just Breathe has been her largest creation.
When Ligon was approached by Angela Sellers, owner of Fit Columbia, to create an accent wall in the yoga studio, Ligon knew she wanted to create something beautiful that drew in yogis. While making this piece, Ligon got to experiment with and use new tools such as an enormous mandala stencil and a lotus flower roller. She also used mirrors and gold leaf in a completely different environment than she is used to using them. Having to plan the piece on a much larger scale than what she was used to was a new challenge for her to overcome, but after completing Just Breathe, Ligon feels much more confident in her skills and is eager to create more mixed media mural walls!
Besides trying to convey beauty through the piece, Ligon also aimed to use the poetry quotes to empower people, especially women. A personal favorite quote of Ligon, from R.M. Drake, is “Then, she began to breathe, and live, and every moment took her to a place where goodbyes were hard to come by. She was in love, but not in love with someone or something, she was in love with her life. And for the first time, in a long time, everything was inspiring.” In her personal life, Ligon feels as if she is starting to really discover how to live in a way that is empowering and enlightening. This concept is shown beautifully across the piece in hopes to inspire others to live their lives this way.
Ligon feels as if art is a gift and that everyone has an artistic ability, even though not everyone taps into their creative side. She believes that art has made her a better person and she loves seeing the beauty in the details of everyday life. Life moves by fast so if I could leave you with some advice that Ligon taught me, it’s to tap into your creativity, see the beauty, and remember to Just Breathe.
If you want to check out Just Breathe in person, come visit Fit Columbia! https://www.fitcolumbia.com/
Check out Ligon’s other work on her art4money Facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/art4money/