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THF Galleries: Haiga of Penney L. Mellen and M. R. Defibaugh

Penney L. Mellen

The Haiku Foundation honors the work of contemporary masters of the dual art of haiga: visual image wedded to haiku. This month’s featured artists are Matthew Defibaugh and Penney L. Mellen.

Michigan-based self-taught artist Penney L. Mellen has been honing her skills in mixed media art since 2007. Her art is influenced by her love of people, animals, nature, and ideas. Inquiry, curiosity, asking questions, and listening are creative inspiration for her. Penney has blended her artistry with her 30 years working in the field of communication disorders as a Speech/Language Pathologist. Each has informed the other and continues to do so. Penney’s journey into mixed media painting has allowed her to develop and extend the range of her skill set using watercolor, acrylic, chalk, ink, wax, and torn paper in her art. Her understanding of communication struggles is woven into her paintings, where she challenges painting rules and pushes traditional boundaries. She uses imagery to present visual stories which explore multiple perspectives and human connections.

M. R. Defibaugh is a Virginia-based poet and haiku enthusiast. Diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, he started experimenting with poetry not long before he began relying on a wheelchair. In 2014, he released his debut collection, Dynamic Parts, featuring an eclectic selection from his first 16 years of writing. Hurricane Warning, published in 2019, features poems written in various forms, including those based on the Japanese literary tradition. His work is influenced by love, loss, disability, compassion for others and the environment, and faith. His poetry is as matter-of-fact as it is romantic, employing imagery that is plain yet sometimes provocative. He has degrees in mathematical sciences (BA, University of Illinois at Springfield) and operations management (MS, University of Arkansas). Frogpond, Modern Haiku, The Nick Virgilio Haiku Association, and The Haiku Foundation have most recently featured his writing.

M. R. Defibaugh

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