December’s Artist of the Month


West Volusia Artists Inc. has named Melinda Ellis Cummings a s December’s Artist of the Month. Her multimedia 3D artwork Urban Decay is pictured here and will be on display at the Wayne G. Sanborn Activity Center in DeLand through the end of December. 

While ambling through the streets of her hometown, DeLand native Cummings finds insight and inspiration for her unconventional jewelry and wearable art. She subscribes to the Japanese artistic movement known as Wabi-Sabi, a point of view that acknowledges three simple realities: Nothing lasts in its original form, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. 

With that concept in mind, Cummings embarked on a personal journey as an artist that has led her down side streets, across parking lots, along walking trails, beside railroad tracks and by the seashore in search of beauty in decay and imperfection. 

“Using found objects that are weathered, rusted, cracked, rough, rustic and asymmetrical,” Cummings said, “I created a line of wearable art in the Wabi- Sabi tradition that fulfills a deep desire within to create something lovely out of flawed, broken, damaged and discarded objects. My purpose as an artist is to create art that reflects life.” 

Although Cummings graduated with a degree in secondary English education from Stetson University, and taught in Volusia County for 25 years, she dabbled in art whenever time allowed, taking classes from art professor Dan Gunderson as an undergraduate and attending stained-glass, ceramics, pottery and photography classes as an adult. 

Retirement allowed her the time to create a line of jewelry and wearable art, and to start an online Etsy shop she calls “That Charmed Girl.” 

Since 2013, Cummings has participated in local arts-and-crafts shows such as the DeLand Craft Fair, the DeLand Outdoor Art Festival, Indie Market, Art in the Oaks in DeLeon Springs and the West Volusia Artists’ Fall Art Show. 

Orchid Rain in Downtown DeLand carries a line of her whimsical jewelry. 

“It feels like Christmas whenever Cummings brings in a new assortment of her creations for me!” shop owner Carol Forest said. 

“I feel joy as an artist also when someone does a double take at one of my pieces and calls out, ‘Look here, honey! This necklace is made out of a water spigot!’” Cummings added. For her, there is no higher praise. 

In September, after reading a post in the newspaper about a West Volusia Artists meeting, Cummings attended her first meeting and joined immediately. 

“I love the energy in this group,” she said. “Although everyone else paints and I work with 3D materials, they are such an accepting, vibrant group. The creative intensity that pulses through us when we’re all at work in the same room is incredible.” 

West Volusia Artists, a DeLand-based organization founded in 1964, meet to draw, paint, create and socialize 9 a.m.-noon on the first and third Fridays of each month September- May at the Wayne G. Sanborn Activity Center, 815 S. Alabama Ave. in DeLand. 

Artists of all mediums and levels are welcome! Bring your creativity and art materials, and join the fun! 

For more information, call 386-738-5515 or visit the Sanborn Activity Center website at and search for the “Ongoing Activities” tab.