San Rafael Public Library

First Wednesday Art Talk – The Strength of Texture: An Overview of the Process – Melissa Shanley, Artist in Residence at MOCA

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January 3, 2018 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
City Hall Council Chambers
1400 E St
San Rafael, CA 94901
Reference Desk









The Strength of Texture – An Overview of the Process

Artist in Residence at Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, Melissa Shanley will demonstrate use of a specialized camera as a tool for an investigation of overlooked historic details of decorative arts and subsequent printing on silk.

Melissa Shanley – Artist’s Statement

Detail of texture has always been the most important aspect in the artwork of Melissa Shanley. Whatever tool or medium she uses, it is in the service of expressing texture, and ultimately to express the silence underneath it. Abstraction is necessary in order to loose the overall story from which the detail comes. She hunts line transforming composition into abstraction and line which draws the viewer in closer than they would consider venturing alone. Dramatically altered perception is what she strives for: a translated understanding of a subject not previously acknowledged.

As the Artist in Residence at the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, she has created two new series. The first, an interactive, outdoor installation on silk. Melissa traveled to Europe for over a year in the process of capturing detailed abstractions of paper used throughout the last 6 centuries. The image of texture from each example is printed onto silk columns, creating an abstracted “forest” environment. Each “species” of “tree” thus invites the viewer to contemplate paper, where it comes from and what it becomes, while exploring the texture of line on the surface of each column. The trees are placed in a manner to encourage walking among them. The details on each column span in time from written declarations of 16th Century Western France to decorated paper folders of 17th Century Amsterdam to stacked work papers of 19th Century Paris to 21st Century industrial corrugated cardboard.

The second series being creating for the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art involves detailed abstractions of the aging female body, focusing on the depth of line, in order to ponder: “how much is safe to reveal, are we safe to be seen, how honest can we be…” as women. Each abstracted images of her own skin will be printed on 16” x 20” paper and hung, without frame or glass, on the wall. The identical image will be printed on a long translucent 8′ length of silk hanging to the floor, approximately 6″ in front of the original image. The effect will be to ask the viewer what women must ask themselves, consciously or unconsciously, everyday: what is their own and what is to be revealed within the current cultural and political climate, in the United States, and around the world.

In most subjects, Melissa becomes acutely aware of the damage from use and warping from time. She sees the world as beauty in imperfection. She pursues the simplicity of line and is led to detailed abstractions. Subjects open their stories to her and invite her to share them in a way not often seen or respected.

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