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A Graduate of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and a Signature Member of the Pastel Society of America, Melanie Stimmell Van Latum has had quite the career. Though you wouldn’t guess it by viewing her amazing 3D and Renaissance style street paintings, Melanie has the incredible cool factor of spending 8 years working on the iconic series South Park! Starting out as a Lead Technical Director on the feature film, ‘South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut’, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone then asked her to join the very popular Comedy Central series where she oversaw the transition from infamous paper cutouts to flawless digital animations.
During a summer hiatus from South Park I began street painting for fun and instantly fell in love. The asphalt became my home each summer until I made the decision to leave South Park to work full time as a street painter & fine artist.
Melanie quickly became a leader in the Street Painting world – a ‘maestra madonnara’ (master street painter) – the only woman ever to hold this prestigious title in two countries (Italy and Germany). During her 14 years as a street painter extraordinaire, she has been awarded Gold medals and 1st place awards in Europe’s most prestigious competitions to become one of the worlds most decorated street painters. She has worked with clients in Turkey, Holland, Thailand, The Republic of Georgia, UK, France, Canada, The Dutch Antilles, China, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and throughout the US and has consulted, painted, and held workshops for chalk painting events all over the world.
In 2012, Melanie and her husband Remco, started We Talk Chalk a 3D street painting company. Since their inception, they have created over 400 paintings throughout the world. They have a team of studio artist in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and work with a select group of artists from all over the world.
If that wasn’t enough to keep her busy…following her great success creating 10 murals in the small town of Montross, VA, Melanie and Remco opened Montross Mural Studio in 2016. Created to share the incredible experience of the area with a spectacular art form, her hope is that students will take away the inspiration and know-how to do the same.
In addition to her work as a professional Street Painter, Muralist, and Fine Artist, Melanie on the Education Roster for the Segerstrom Center for the Arts ‘Arts Teach’ program, she has lead workshops and residencies in Italian Street Painting in elementary schools throughout Southern California. As part of her evolution through our current educational climate, Melanie developed a Collaborative Teaching Residency for a high school in South Central Los Angeles via the Los Angeles Music Center. A high risk school with root problems with gangs and drugs, she taught side by side with faculty to integrate the arts into their everyday curriculum. Using Street Painting as a vehicle, Melanie developed a 12 week program to aid teachers in engaging troubled teens within their Small Learning communities. She is currently Lead Visual Artist for a special program in Orange County to teach students Science through dance and visual arts.
When she began receiving requests for street painting workshops at schools in other states and countries, Melanie developed the Street Painting Academy, through which she offers students of all ages the opportunity to learn this 500 year old Italian tradition.