My collage of shapes created from Melvin Way's drawings: Melvin Way: The Cocaine Files Dossier (1989-2017).
"Studying the masterpieces of visionary Melvin Way... you see him creating synaptic connections between real things in possible and impossible ways, all with great graphic imagination." Deciphering the drawings is something only Melvin Way can do, each "a sort of three dimensional thesis; compressed to 4" x 5" of a reused piece of scrap paper, a refined—almost elegant—haiku."
Way meticulously builds up the surface with layers of tape, covering deliberate markings he's thickly drawn in ballpoint pen, leaving the remnants of older thoughts obscured but sometimes still visible beneath an edge. The works are given titles like "Carborane" (combination of boron, carbon, and hydrogen atoms) and "Orthodontics" (specialty in dentistry).
Melvin Way was born in South Carolina in 1954. Raised there and in Brooklyn, he studied briefly at the Technical Career Institute before mental illness left him homeless, in and out of psychiatric care and the city’s shelter system. While admitted on Ward’s Island, Way met art teacher Andrew Castrucci. Drawn to Way’s private, dedicated system of art making, Castrucci has been his champion and collaborator ever since.