Melissa Langston Sanford is an Alaskan artist whose main interests in life have beenart, jewelry, adventure and a love for the "Great Outdoors." In 1971, she began two years of metalsmithing in college before getting side-tracked for ten years with adventure and unusual jobs. Breaking into art as a living can be difficult, so Melissa decided that as long as she had to work, she was going to pursue "adventure through employment." This quest led her to jobs as a fire tower lookout, a gold panner, a carpenter’s assistant, a musician, a taxi driver, a fish slimer, a sculpture studio assistant, a waffle packer, a house painter, and a teacher of art and music in Native villages in the Alaskan bush.
Melissa spent five years in the Alaskan bush on the Kuskokwim River, flying between Native villages as an itinerant art and music teacher. She lived in a cabin five miles outside of town and used a dog team in the winter and a boat in the summer for her daily commute to school.
She returned to college in 1982 at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks to finish her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in metalsmithing, with a minor in sculpture. During this time Melissa met her husband, Randy Sanford, when she was working one summer as a gold panner on an exploratory drill at a gold mine.
Once Melissa finished her B.F.A. in Metalsmithing, she worked in the jewelry industry for five years as a bench jeweler, acquiring commercial skills and knowledge. She decided to start selling designs of her own "on the side" in 1991, which became a full-time occupation in 1993, and now keeps three to five additional staff members busy.
Melissa’s adventures and work experience have fueled her ideas for jewelry images and designs, but the recurring theme she finds in her work is reflecting the nature and wildlife she experiences. . . hence the name Wilderness Expressions. She feels there is a fine line between sculpture and jewelry, and often encompasses both in her designs.
Melissa hopes you enjoy her interpretations and Wilderness Expressions.